Thu, Feb 17, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Family murders an HIV-positive woman


An HIV-positive woman was ostracised, beaten up and murdered by her own relatives in a village in the western Indian state of Gujarat, it was reported yesterday.

Sumitra Patel, 37, was found lying in a pool of blood Monday in a hut on her father's farm on the outskirts of Dharasana village, the Indian Express newspaper reported quoting police officials.

Sumitra had been living in the hut for about three weeks since she was thrown out of the family home by relatives and separated from her 13-year-old son earlier this year.

Sumitra's's husband died of AIDS in 2003 and she was diagnosed as HIV-positive in August 2004. Soon after she came with her son to stay with her father Hari Patel in Dharasana.

When relatives and other villagers found out she was HIV-positive, they forced her to move to the hut on the outskirts of the village.

Sumitra's father, in his complaint to the police, blamed his brother and nephew for her death, saying they harassed her mentally and physically after finding out she was HIV-positive.

"A few days ago Sumitra came to visit us and she met my nephew Anil's children and interacted with them. When they found out they beat her up and threatened to kill her if she was seen in the village again," he said.

The police have detained Patel's brother and nephew for questioning. "Her assailants hit Sumitra on the head with a sharp weapon killing her on the spot," a police official said.

HIV-AIDs is a taboo subject in most of India and there is enormous social stigma attached to the disease, largely due to ignorance.

There are over 5 million HIV-AIDs cases in the country and the government in recent years has launched several initiatives.

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