The Hospital Authority and the police have confirmed that a male officer entered a maternity ward, where an arrested nine-months pregnant woman was undergoing checks.
The 19-year-old woman, surnamed Lam, said she did not give her approval. She was arrested at Siu Hong MTR station in Tuen Mun at around 9:30pm on Monday on suspicion of unlawful assembly and criminal damage. Protesters were damaging the station at the time.
Lam told Ming Pao in an interview that she fell when she was arrested and her water broke. She claimed that riot police officers did not believe her, and threatened to send her to San Uk Ling Holding Centre, a widely-criticised detention centre near the Chinese border which the government previously said would no longer be used.
Lam was admitted to the maternity ward at Tuen Mun Hospital guarded by a female and a male officer. She underwent a medical checkup at a room in the ward. According to Lam, a female officer said she needed to be searched. Lam was on a bed, already in an operation robe, and had removed all of her clothes. Lam said that the female officer then examined her bag and clothes.
Another male officer then entered the room, despite an attempt by medical staff members to block his access. Lam said she had yet to tie her operation robe up and was otherwise naked. Medical staff then covered her with a blanket.
The officer asked Lam to confirm her personal details including name, phone number and address, and left five minutes later, she said: “I feel helpless – why can a man who I don’t know enter? Usually, only the partner of the pregnant woman could enter – I was embarrassed at the time, I kept on checking if I covered myself,” Lam told Ming Pao.
The police confirmed on Wednesday that a male officer entered the ward: “In response to concern about the presence of the male officer, a female officer was deployed to replace him later,” the force said in a statement.
“The Police reiterate that we have standard procedures for handling arrested persons. We respect privacy and endeavour to ensure that any investigation or operation in a hospital will not affect its operation and services for patients.”
The police wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday afternoon that “no police officer entered the maternity ward,” but the claim was removed 40 minutes later from the post.
Tuen Mun Hospital also issued a statement on Wednesday confirming the incident. It said the male officer was confirming personal information with Lam, accompanied by a nurse and another staff member, before he left.
“Tuen Mun Hospital will strive to ensure the protection of patients’ privacy and the smooth operation of services for patients,” it said.
Asked about the incident, Police Public Relations Branch Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-cheung said at a press conference on Friday that the police had communicated with hospital staff members before entering the ward.
He said the police responded to concerns and replaced the male officer with a female officer: “We admit that there is room for our colleagues to improve their sensitivity,” he said.
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