When a parent sends her child to college, she’s doing it in the hope that this will help that child secure a better future with more opportunities. Paying for tuition is a big sacrifice for a lot of families, and one that must mean a lot to the children afforded the chance for a higher education. But if college is a sacrifice, it’s supposed to be a financial one, and not the forfeiture of a young woman’s dignity and bodily autonomy.
And so I can’t imagine what the parents of the two young women bringing a lawsuit against the Florida’s Valencia College must be feeling today. The suit names the college and three of the instructors in the medical diagnostics program, who the students are accusing of subjecting them to forced vaginal ultrasounds as part of the sonography ‘training’.
According to CNN, the students were obligated to undergo these ultrasounds as part of their classes, and that refusal to participate was met with threats against their grades — and even the suggestion that their lack of interest in being subjected to this kind of invasive exam would result in their being blacklisted from future employment in the medical field. And in case all that wasn’t bad enough, one of the instructors also made crude comments during the sonography sessions, telling the student she was “sexy” and should be an “escort girl”.
Most new coverage is referring to these students’ treatment as ‘forced vaginal ultrasounds’, but let’s call a spade a spade. This is rape, or at the very least sexual assault; these women were penetrated under duress and against their wishes, and the fact that it happened surrounded by their peers in a medical classroom doesn’t exactly ameliorate that fact. And while Valencia College claims that participation as an ultrasound volunteer is intended to be voluntary, that doesn’t help if the instructors aren’t on board.
The lawsuit states that a second year medical student “explained the Medical Diagnostic Sonography Program’s faculty believed that students should undergo invasive transvaginal ultrasound procedures in order to become better sonography technicians.” It’s funny (not funny), though, how no one expects cardiac surgeons to undergo open heart surgery in order to become better doctors, and no one expects oncologists to go through a round of chemotherapy just to get the picture. So why do young women need to be coerced into sexual assault to truly ‘understand’ the procedure being performed on their future patients? These young women deserved better, and I hope that they and their families find both justice and closure from this horrible situation.
(Image: sudok1 / iStock / Getty)