Best Way To Fight Stigma Is To Speak Out Honestly

Name: Suhasini
Age: 20 Years
HIV Status: Positive

Suhasini’s older brother had settled down in a decent job in a well known temple town and he requested all the family members to come and live with him as he was earning well and was in a position to run and manage the family. Suhasini’s Father was a daily laborer. Suhasini by then was in her eighth grade. She was a good student and teachers advised her to study well so that she could get a government job.

In the new town, the Suhasini’s family lived in a slum which was very different from the village where they used to live. This settlement colony had people from different backgrounds. They were not very warm people. Each one of them had different occupations and they were busy engaged in their own work. Suhasini joined school.Every day, she was followed by a man called Punith who was a cook in a sweetmeat stall which was close to Suhasini’s house. Suhasini was told by her acquaintances that he was a responsible guy and that he is a reliable person. One day he took me to his house and introduced me to his mother and younger brother. I liked them all. But back home,Suhasini’s brother became furious that she had gone to Punith’s house without his knowledge. He beat Suhasini and forced her to put an end to school. A devastated Suhasini made plans to escape from home with Punith.

Subsequently, Suhasini and Punith got married. When Suhasini became pregnant, she visited a counselor at Government Maternity hospital, who disclosed her about her HIV Positive status. Suhasini’s husband took her to his mother and spoke to her about the HIV status. Her decision was clear. She asked the couple to leave the house. She never bothered to know what, why and how of the disease. She told the young couple that Sheha’s another son to be married off and she cannot afford to loose him.

Suhasini’s husband died soon, as he was deeply distressed and depressed. But with a baby in her arms, Suhasini had to start working as there was no one to support her. Suhasini says, ‘I was fortunate to know WINS positive people’s forum meetings and met many women like me. Widows, destitute and carrying HIV. I was naturally drawn into the group. They all spoke how their families are unable to understand HIV and its effect on humans. This support group meeting helped me to talk to my mother in law, who had some of my husband’s possessions. He had told me to collect it from his mother. He knew that I may not be able to earn or save to buy these household goods such as cooking gas, cupboard etc. It was not easy to get it from my in-laws. I tried three times and never succeeded.

”With support from WINS staff, Suhasini went to a women friendly police station where her mother-in-law was summoned and she agreed to handover Suhasini’s share of property. With great content, Suhasini recollects, ‘I thought it was a miracle. But it was true that I was able to get my share of my husband’s goods and property. I now have it with me and I show it to my son that it is his father’s belongings. All of this was possible because of the support I received from WINS.