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HIV tears lady away from son

- In-laws drive away woman

Krishnagar, Sept. 25: A Nadia homemaker who tested positive for HIV and whose husband died of AIDS last year has been allegedly thrown out of her in-laws’ home and denied custody of her son.

The 35-year-old widow has been staying at her father’s home in Borgachhi after being thrown out of her in-laws’ home in Debagram in June. Her husband, a jaggery manufacturer, died in September last year.

“Within a few days of my husband’s death, my father-in-law and two brothers-in law began torturing me physically and mentally. Three months ago, they drove me out of the house saying my children would contract the disease and die if I stayed with them. When I went to see my children a few days later, they did not allow me to see my son. They, however, allowed me to take my two little daughters with me,” the lady said.

She said she visited her in-laws’ house several times and begged that she be allowed to see her 11-year-old son “but they did not listen”.

The Nadia chapter of the NGO People Living with HIV AIDS Society, which is bearing the cost of the woman’s treatment, has informed the district administration about the woman’s plight.

Nadia district magistrate Abhinav Chandra said: “I have ordered a probe into the matter. We will do whatever we can to help the lady.”

Sanjiv Dey, the secretary of the Nadia chapter of the NGO, said the lady needed “mental support”. “HIV-positive persons should be treated with sympathy and care.”

A local Trinamul leader supported the father-in-law, his logic baring the lack of awareness about the ailment, especially in rural areas. “The woman is a big risk to the village. So I have asked her father-in-law to keep her away from others,” Shahidullah Sheikh said.

The lady’s father-in-law said: “We have done the right thing. I will not allow my daughter-in-law to enter our village. She can’t be allowed to come near her son, that will be harmful to him.”

Asked why he did not show the same concern for the lady’s daughters, he said: “The life of a boy is more precious than that of a girl.”

Social welfare minister Sabitri Mitra said she would ask the Nadia administration to “take necessary action so that the woman is reunited with her son”. “We will not tolerate this nonsense.”

The chief of the local Debagram panchayat, Usha Rani Das, admitted that the rural body had “failed” to make the woman’s in-laws see sense.