Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Dhu'l-Qa'dah / Zil-Hijjah 1423 H
February 2003
Volume 16-02 No : 194
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Muslim Perspectives


Getting Married? Ask for an AIDS Certificate!
Mosque Leaders: True Commanders in the War against AIDS


Getting Married?
Ask for an AIDS Certificate!

According to the latest estimates, about 3.97 million adults are infected with HIV/ AIDS in the country. There is an alarming rise in this malady among the Muslims too now!



By M. Hanif Lakdawala

Rehana Banu, 21, died of HIV couple of months back in Mumbai’s JJ hospital’s maternity ward. Her one-month-old infant baby girl was also infected with HIV and expired 9 days after the birth.

In the last four months, three pregnant Muslim women died in different hospitals of Mumbai due to HIV. In all three cases, the newly born child also suffered from HIV, of which two have died and one is still surviving just waiting for her last breath.

Ironically, all three women were in the age group of 19-22 and had acquired HIV from their HIV infected husbands after marriage. The husbands working in Mumbai had married these women back from their villages.

Many parents are alarmed over the HIV campaign, revealing the increase in the incidents of Aids. Many of the parents whose daughters are about to be married to a distant relative or engaged to a person from a different state or country are worried and in dilemma. They do not know how to get convinced about the HIV status of their would be son-in -law. At stake, is not just the life of their daughter, but also their future generation as Aids is leaving a generation of orphans.

Young Rauf and Abid, both infected at birth, are just two of the some 160,000 children the United Nations estimates to be infected with HIV in India. The total HIV-infected Indian population is estimated at just under 4 million.

Abid’s mother, Nashreen, got the HIV from her husband and passed the virus on to her son. Doctors say mother-to-child transmissions are increasing as infection rates rise among Indian women. “My little child has seen nothing of those world, but he has endured pain ever since birth,” says Nashreen. Since her husband’s death, she has worked at odd jobs at an AIDS clinic to survive. But she worries for Abid’s future.

Although infection rates in India are a fraction of those in Africa, health officials worry that the disease can still have a grave effect on the nation’s future. “I think we are in for a very bleak future,” says Dr. Chinkolal Thangsing, who cares for children with AIDS here. “May be, quite a great destruction in the lives of people in the government, in all walks of life in the existence of the country itself.”

Hamid Surve got his elder daughter engaged to a software engineer residing in Chicago. His greatest worry is the HIV status of his would-be son-in-law. “Though marriage involves lot of faith, but considering the increase in the cases of HIV, I am very worried about my daughter’s future. I do not know how to convey my concern to my would-be son-in-law”, says Surve..

Islamic Voice conducted a random survey among 24,general practitioners from the thickly populated Muslim pockets to gauge the severity of the problem. Three general practitioners said they receive more than 10 HIV positive patients every month. About 15 general practitioners diagnosed more than 5 HIV patients every month and remaining six said that they see between one to six HIV cases every month.

Doctors confirmed that majority of the HIV cases are between 18 to 26 years and the patients are unmarried. Dr A R Dabir from Dongri says that since the last two years, there is an increase in HIV cases. “Last week, I diagnosed an HIV positive case. The patient is engaged to a daughter of a Muslim businessman and they are not aware of the HIV status of their future son-in-law”, said Dr Dabir. Confirming the trend, Dr Zubair Shaikh, General Secretary of the IMPA said, “Increase in HIV cases is affecting the socio-economic aspects of the Muslim society. Mass awareness and practical steps need to be urgently taken to curtail the spread of HIV amongst the Muslim youth. Even Muslim parents must be encouraged to ask for pre- marital HIV tests of their prospective son-in-law.” he said.

There is an official policy too. The National AIDS Policy, which was recently cleared by the Union Cabinet provides for this. At the time of marriage negotiations, either party can legitimately ask for an AIDS-free certificate from the other.

To quote the policy, details of which have been released, “In case of marriage, if one of the partners insists on a test to check the HIV status of the other partner, such tests should be carried out by the contracting party to the satisfaction of the person concerned’’.

The need for such certification is, however, not mandatory, considering that it would neither be possible nor necessary given the very nature of marriage negotiations. The move, on the other hand, is primarily designed to give the demand for such certificates official sanctity so that neither party has any hesitation while making such a demand.

While men currently accounted for the bulk of the HIV/ AIDS cases - about 75 per cent in India, studies show that the incidence of the disease is growing among women too. According to the latest estimates, about 3.97 million adults are infected with HIV/ AIDS in the country, with 89 per cent of them in the age group of 18 to 49.

According to Dr Dabir, few of the Christian priests in Mumbai have come out with the guideline according to which, couples would be tested in private clinics, and the results would go to the religious authority. “If medically fit, the couple would be issued a certificate and could then marry. If a test showed that a prospective bride or groom had HIV/AIDS, it would be up to them if they wanted to go on with their wedding, as they could not be prevented from doing so. But the priest themselves would dissociate from such a marriage,” confirmed Dr Dabir who is on the panel appointed by the Christian priests.

As such, Muslim women face lot of discrimination in the society. The issue needs to be debated by the community before it takes a serious turn.

The writer can be reached at mhl@rediffmail.com

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Mosque Leaders: True Commanders in the War against AIDS

Dar-es- Salaam: The Executive Chairman of IPP Limited and TACAIDS Commissioner, Reginald Mengi, has congratulated Mosques’ Leadership for testing for AIDS. Mengi said through a press statement released in Dar-es-Salaam that Mosque leaders who had tested for HIV/AIDS deserved congratulations. They include Mosque Imams, district BAMITA secretaries, and Madrasa teachers from Morogoro Coast and Dar-es-Salaam regions, as well as Zanzibar. The exercise was led by the BAMITA Secretary General. “ We have good reasons to congratulate the BAMITA Secretary General and his colleagues for their courage and for being at the front line as true commanders in the war against HIV/AIDS.

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