Saudi no nonsense nurse battles gender roles to save lives
A Saudi nurse has been hailed a hero after she rescued a young man following a road accident.
Salwa Juma Al Khobairi was in a car on the Madina-Khaybar highway in western Saudi Arabia when she saw a crowd of people around a man who was bleeding as a result of an accident.
Despite the social restrictions on the presence of women among men, Salwa got out of the car and forced her way through the crowd of onlookers until she reached the man and administered the urgently needed medical care.
The nurse’s prompt intervention and efforts saved the young man in his 20s well before medics reached the site of the accident, witnesses told local Arabic daily Okaz.
“All those who witnessed the nurse’s behaviour were deeply moved by her courage and her professional standards,” Marzouq Al Arfi, a Saudi national who was present at the site, told the newspaper.
The young man was eventually transferred to a local hospital for further treatment.
The mayor of Khaybar, an oasis city around 150 kilometres north of Madina, honoured Salwa.
Businessman Awad Al Motlaq Al Hamazani offered her 10,000 riyals (Dh9,793) in tribute to her brave and prompt reaction, saying that he appreciated her role as a Saudi citizen and a sister in providing the necessary care to save a young man despite challenges.
The rare public honour for the Saudi nurse was seen as a ray of hope for the thousands of Saudi women in the field who have to confront challenging misconceptions and negative social attitudes towards their profession.
Nurses have often complained that several segments of society have a hard time accepting that their daughters take up nursing as a full-time profession.
“Despite all efforts by the health ministry to adjust working schedules and hours of the women nurses, many families resent having their daughters do night or evening shifts,” one nurse told the Okaz daily in July. “Unfortunately, for many people, these shifts are the gateway to divorce and to the family destruction for married nurses and to a no-husband status for those longing to get married,” she said.
According to official figures Saudi Arabia’s hospitals and medical facilities employ 20,747 Saudi nurses and 81,000 foreign nurses.
Around half of the total number of expatriate nurses and 600 Saudi nurses work in the private sector.
By Habib Toumi
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