Indian Officials Investigating Stoning Death of HIV-Positive Woman
Officials in India's southern state of Andhra Pradesh have begun an investigation into the stoning death of a 30-year-old HIV-positive woman, the Washington Times reports. According to the private organization Women's Initiative (WINS), which works with sex workers and HIV-positive people, Munnuswamy Pavanamma was stoned to death by her relatives and neighbors on July 3 in Kuppam. Setlur Varadadesikan Sreeram, a senior executive at WINS, said that Pavanamma was "hit on the head [by stones], started bleeding from her injury and collapsed to death instantly." According to WINS, Pavanamma's neighbors wanted to have her thrown out of the village after they learned she was HIV-positive. Her family moved her from their house to a small mud house at the edge of the community, where the attack occurred, the Times reports. Following the attack, neighbors burned Munnuswamy's body, the bench on which she was lying and a mango tree beneath which she had rested, according to Pinakapani Manorama, president of the private Community Health Education Society. He said, "It exemplifies the level of ignorance of the people and the ostracism the woman faced," adding, "The government should take severe action against those who erred. It should not be shooed away as a stray incident." Naveen Chand, the district police chief, said that the reports of the stoning were "totally false," adding that Pavanamma died from complications of AIDS. However, advocates said that Chand was trying to "hush up the case to avoid embarrassment," according to the Times (Azizur Rahman, Washington Times, 7/14). A kaisernetwork.org video feature on AIDS in India is available online.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.