30.09.2012: Disease and banishment – a woman speaks out
This is the story of Kalpana. It is a story where the burden of poverty and disability is worsened by the horror of domestic violence. For the women of Bihar, it is a story that is sadly familiar.
Kalpana was just 17 when she married Nayan, a soldier in the Indian Army.
Being an infantry soldier, Nayan is frequently posted on the borders of the country and sees his family twice a year. On one such visit he discovered patches on Kalpana’s body and suspected she had leprosy.
He was so angry that he tied Kalpana up and, behind closed doors, beat her with a stick. Other family members ignored her cries. Three years ago, Nayan forced Kalpana out of their house. With her five-year old daughter, Anshu Priya Kalpana returned home to her mother.
Kalpana turned to LEPRA in February 2011 and was treated for multi-bacillary leprosy. She has now completed her course of multi-drug therapy and the patches on her body have disappeared. This is because LEPRA caught her condition in time.
When Kalpana shared the news of her recovery with Nayan, she hoped he would take her back. He refused. With LEPRA’s help, Kalpana filed for divorce, demanding maintenance payments from her husband to care for their daughter. The case is still pending in court as Nayan refuses to attend hearings during his annual leave.
According to the recent National Family Health Survey of India, 59 per cent of women in Bihar face domestic violence. The actual figures are likely to double if the woman is found to have contracted a disease like leprosy or HIV. The survey also found that 51 per cent of men and 54 per cent of women found it justifiable for a man to beat his wife.
This makes our work in communities that much tougher. Whilst physical and sexual violence against women is prevalent throughout the world, the high level of acceptability in India is disturbing. This is despite a progressive Domestic Violence Act enacted in India in 2005 outlawing all forms of violence against girls and women.
For the first time in years, Kalpana came forward to talk publicly about the mistreatment she had experienced for having leprosy. She spoke up bravely during LEPRA’s recent Social Audit of the Munger Referral Centre and said that she could not have shared her story without LEPRA’s support.
How LEPRA helps
|Areas of Work||What we do|
|Fights for the equal rights of women||
|Alleviates conditions and their symptoms, rehabilitates||
|Promotes independence and improved quality of life||
Posted by admin 10:08 30.09.2012
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