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Ostracised Woman Cremated Her AIDS-Affected Husband Alone

A woman belonging to a village in Bihar was left for herself to cremate the body of her husband, who had died of AIDS, as nobody turned up// give a helping hand. The widow dragged his body to the backyard of her hut and performed his last rites herself.

Grief-stricken Dhanua Devi (named changed), a 36-year-old resident of Khaira village in Darbhanga district, says not a single person visited her thatched hut to console her.

A mother of three, she told district officials that no one was ready to take her husband's body to the cremation ground because he died of AIDS - a cruel example of the social stigma attached to the disease in India.

'She virtually dragged the body of her husband to the backyard of her hut and performed the last rites with some dry wood and leaves she had collected for cooking,' a district official said.

Her husband Surendra Kumar used to work in Mumbai, where he contracted AIDS. When his health deteriorated, he returned to his village. In the absence of proper medical care, he soon breathed his last.

What's more, he was ostracised even in death.

Darbhanga district magistrate Upendra Sharma said he would order a probe into the matter.

According to the Bihar State AIDS Control Society, there are 8,128 cases of HIV and 1,070 patients of AIDS in the state. Till date, 70 people, including 13 children, have died of AIDS. India has 5.1 million HIV/AIDS patients, second only to South Africa.

--Edited IANS

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