A Harvard educated doctor was the victim of racism and sexism shortly after she moved to Australia. Dr. Alice Han, who is of Korean ancestry, moved to Australia from Canada in May, according to 10 Daily. The obstetrician-gynecologist and global women’s health expert was awarded a research fellowship to help the country’s response to violence against women. But when she got to Australia she was called a sex worker twice and was asked if she ate dogs.
Han said that she was shocked by the “overt discrimination and racial profiling” in Australia compared to Toronto, which she described as “so multicultural and progressive.”
Han recalled that she was driving from Brisbane to Melbourne with her new car when it got a flat. She called a tow truck driver, who drove her to a nearby hotel, which had a vacancy. The owner let her in but she said they had a “rough and aggressive” exchange which got her kicked off the premises.
“He asked me ‘are you a working girl? Is that how you can afford the room,'” she said. “At first I didn’t know what he was referring to.”
Dr. Alice Han showed him her ID and tried to explain her situation but that was of no use.
“The man became angrier, he said the fact that you are so selfish and inconsiderate in my reception area tells me you’ll be inconsiderate and selfish in the room,” she said. “We are very selective here about who we allow to stay.”
After, she was kicked out by the Caucasian man. When Daily 10 contacted the hotel owner, he said it was actually her being rude.
“After getting out of bed to let her in after our reception closed, I found her behavior rude and inconsiderate to book online and not directly with us, that’s all it was about,” he said. “We get to decide who stays at our premise and I only want courteous people here.”
However, he did concur that he asked her if she was a sex worker.
“Yes I had a reasonable inquiry about her being a working girl, because why would a lady turn up so late by herself and not call ahead or the insurance company not call ahead?” he said.
But he denied any racism on his part.
“The only one who racially profiled her is herself,” he said. “I dismiss that entirely. Yes we have some racism in this country but not as bad as some people make out and she just played the race card.”
The next day, Dr. Alice Han was at a train station when she was once again asked if she was a working girl by a different Caucasian male.
Besides being asked if she’s a working girl, Dr. Han has been the target of racism. “It’s overt discrimination,” she said. “Someone asked me if I eat dog and another person told me I speak English well.”
Dr. Han hopes that her story will get a conversation started on “implicit bias” and hopes something positive can come of her awful experiences.