AN HIV positive family in Ghazipur has been facing “social boycott” for the past three years and has been unable to get their eight-year-old son re-admitted in the school, which has “forced” them into keeping their child at home.
Parents of the boy alleged that they have since been turned away by both private and public schools in their locality over claims that admitting their child would bring “bad reputation” to the school and would lead to other parents keeping their children at home.
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While the district administration claims to have ordered an inquiry into the matter and said it will ensure the child is not deprived of education, the parents have not found any support in their locality, which they say have “boycotted” them.
“People on the streets move aside to avoid any physical contact with us,” the 36-year-old father, a labourer, said. He said even the private school in which his younger son used to study forced them to keep him at home, claiming other parents had threatened to not send their children to school if his son was allowed to attend classes.
The family first learnt of the disease in 2011 when the mother came down with high fever and complained of pain in the stomach.
“When her blood test report said she was HIV positive, doctors advised test for all the family members. It was then that we learnt that both my younger son and I were positive, while my elder son’s report came negative,” said the father.
He said that as the news of his son being HIV-positive spread, authorities started putting pressure on him to withdraw the child from the school. “After regular pressure, I stopped sending my son,” he said.
His wife (32) said they approached the school’s principal a few months later and requested them to allow their son to continue his study. “My son attended classes for a few days but would be made to sit separately from other students. A few days later, school authorities again started forcing us to not send him to school anymore because other parents had threatened them. They also said that because of my son, the school was getting bad reputation. We never sent him again after that,” she said. However, their elder son, a student of Class V at the same school, continues to attend classes.
The family said they had also contacted government schools in their area but “all of them refused admission.”
The district administration said it has begun an inquiry into the matter. Lekhpal Ram Pyare said they met the family on Sunday. “We checked the parents’ and the boy’s medical records and found they are HIV positive. The couple is also physically challenged,” he said.
While Basic Shiksha Adhikari Chandra Kesh Singh Yadav’s cellphone came switched off, the Additional Basic Shiksha Adhikari, Sita Ram Ojha, said, “The inquiry team had gone to the school to record statements of the authorities there.”
Officiating District Magistrate and Chief Development Officer Arvind Kumar Pandey said, “Action will be taken if the school authorities are found guilty. We will ensure that the child is not deprived of education. Arrangements will soon be made to secure his admission in a school.”
Meanwhile, the boy and his parents are undergoing treatment at Sir Sunderlal Hospital, run by the Institute of Medical Sciences of Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi.