A 6-week suspension for a doctor calling for women to be raped

How to make sense of a 6-week suspension for a doctor calling for women to be raped?

“Some women deserve to be raped, and that supercilious little bitch fits the bill in every way.”

“She needs to be abandoned in India and repeatedly raped in order for her to wake up.”

“If my marriage fell apart, it would not end in divorce. It would end in murder.”

These are among the actual comments posted in a Singaporean chatroom by a practising doctor in Australia in 2016.

He was working and living in Hobart as a medical registrar at the time and earlier this month was found guilty of professional misconduct by the Tasmanian Health Practitioners Tribunal.

In the decision handed down on April 17, the Chair Robert Webster said the comments were “disrespectful of women”, “racially discriminatory” and had “potential to cause harm to the public”.

He has been suspended for six weeks and will undertake an educational program in ethical behaviour on social media.

It is not his first encounter with the Medical Board of Australia. He was disciplined for accessing a hospital patient’s records on 21 occasions between July 2015 and December 2016 “without consent or clinical need”.

Prior to his suspension he was working in Victoria’s Box Hill Hospital in a role he began in January 2019.


To say it’s confronting to imagine being treated by a doctor who published the remarks he did, effectively advocating for murder and rape, is an understatement. A six-week suspension seems trivial in the circumstances.

Once again we confront the boundaries and limitations around us – and it’s uncomfortable.

A doctor who is ‘punctual and professional’ is merely suspended for actions that most would regard as being abhorrent and inexcusable.

Last week we were forced to contemplate the fact Borce Ristevski could potentially only spend six years in jail after admitting he killed his wife. Six years.

In the days before Ristevski’s sentence was delivered another man in Victoria was sentenced to at least ten years behind bars for killing a doctor in hospital in May 2017.

Both scenarios are gut-wrenching and tragic beyond belief. Two innocent lives were cruelly ended. We don’t know exactly how Karen’s life ended: Borce has not divulged those details. We know that the surgeon, husband and father, Dr Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann, was punched, fatally, after he asked a patient not to smoke.

It is hard to find equivalence in and between these crimes, they’re both horrific, but it’s impossible not to wonder how we measure and value lives and crimes.

Obviously a person posting vile content online is very different from an individual violently ending another person’s life. But can we pretend they’re totally unrelated? I’m not sure.

What I am sure of is that six years seems an awfully short period of time to spend in jail for killing a person and six weeks seems an awfully short period of time to be suspended from work for advocating violent crimes.

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