Intended for healthcare professionals


Prime time torture

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 24 April 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1151
  1. Kerri Sherlock, Physicians for Human Rights,
  2. Barbara Ayotte, Physicians for Human Rights
  1. Boston, MA, USA

    For the first time in the history of television drama, a prime time series is focusing on the issue of torture. The popular US series ER is currently airing a recurring storyline that centres on two survivors of torture from Nigeria who resettle in Chicago and begin working at the city hospital. (The first episode of the story is transmitted on British television next week on 28 April). The US based group Physicians for Human Rights suggested the storyline and assisted the producers and cast with the script.

    ER's Dr Green discovers that Mobalage has been tortured

    The story begins with Dr Mark Green noticing a janitor named Mobalage wincing with back pain as he works. He is resistant to Green's offer to examine his back but, as Green continues to show concern, finally agrees to the examination. When placed in the examination room he becomes claustrophobic, ripping the curtain down in a rage. As Green lifts Mobalage's shirt, an array of keloids are revealed (probably the result of burns). Mobalage also complains of erectile dysfunction and asks for the drug Viagra. Green orders some urological tests and ultimately recommends surgery. Mobalage's wife, Kubby, chases Green, expressing fear …

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