The Hong Kong Hospital Authority on Friday confirmed that a male police officer forced his way into a maternity ward as a 19-year-old pregnant protester was disrobed for a body search.
The Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) recounted the incident, which involved a woman named Lam who was arrested for “unlawful assembly and criminal damage” at an MTR railroad station on Monday night.
Protesters frequently target MTR stations, especially during the more chaotic nighttime demonstrations, and sometimes try to damage them badly enough to force them to close.
According to the HKFP, Ms. Lam fell down during her arrest and her water broke. She had some difficulty convincing the riot police to send her to a hospital instead of tossing her in jail, but she eventually prevailed. According to the report:
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 [a local Chinese-language newspaper].
Police officials on Wednesday admitted a male officer entered the maternity ward, but claimed all “standard procedures” were followed to “respect privacy” and ensure the operation of the hospital was not affected … but then on Thursday they reversed themselves and denied that any police officers, male or female, intruded on the maternity ward. This claim was removed without explanation within an hour, and the Hospital Authority confirmed Lam’s story on Friday.
“We admit that there is room for our colleagues to improve their sensitivity,” a police spokesman said.
Also hospitalized during Monday’s protests was a 27-year-old man who was placed in intensive care with a brain hemorrhage due to “hard objects striking his head.” The man was reportedly in stable condition as of Friday morning. Three other men and a woman requested medical treatment after the Monday demonstrations.