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International Newspaper accounts of AIDS widow's death by stoning

Dear  AIDS -INDIA Forum,

Further to my posting earlier today in regard to the reported stoning to death of an AIDS widow in Andhra Pradesh, I can now report that  due to the efforts of two journalists in India the story has been reported today in the South China Morning Post, the Bangkok Post (July 12) and today in the Washington Times..hopefully tomorrow in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Express in London.

The Bangkok Post story was filed by Dinesh C.Sharma from New Delhi.

The following account was reported by Calcutta journalist Shaikh Azizur Rahman in Chennai for the Washington Times and the South China Morning Post.
Widow with AIDS allegedly stoned to death in India



Under pressure from outraged activists,Andhra Pradesh officials launch probe
The state government of India's Andhra Pradesh province is investigating the alleged stoning to death of an HIV-positive widow. The move comes after Aids rights campaigners worldwide condemned what they saw as government inaction over the report.

According to non-government organisation Women's Initiatives (Wins), Munnuswamy Pavanamma, 30, was stoned to death by her relatives and neighbours on July 3 in the village of Kuppam in Andhra Pradesh.

"Some neighbours, including her relatives, tried to take Pavanamma out of their [village] by carrying away the bench on which she was lying in front of her mud-house. When she tried to run away, the people pelted her with stones," said S. V. Sreeram, a Wins senior executive. "She was hit on the head, started bleeding from her injury and collapsed and died."

The incident came to light only after Wins and other local NGOs had followed up on the case and demanded an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

According to Wins, the villagers wanted Pavanamma to be thrown out of the town when they knew that she was an Aids "patient".

In the face of growing pressure from villagers to ostracise her, her family also turned against her. Her mother and brother isolated her, moving her to a small mud-house at the edge of their village.

It was not clear how the mob started, but villagers attacked Pavanamma while she was resting in front of the mud-house.

Dr. Pinakapani Manorama, president of the Community Health Education Society, an NGO working in the field of Aids in Chennai, said: "Hurriedly, after having burned her body, the neighbours burned the bench on which Pavanamma used to lie and cut down the mango tree under which she used to take rest.

"It exemplifies the level of ignorance about Aids of the people and the ostracism the woman faced. The government should take severe action."

The report has shocked Aids activists around the world.

Brian Haill, president of the Australian Aids Fund, wrote to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu to express outrage at the stoning.

"Such a horror is not acceptable in any society in the world and must be condemned in the strongest possible and public manner."

In a letter to Indian President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, Mr Haill wrote: "Such an appalling act must not be allowed to go unreported in the Indian mass media or without condemnation by an internationally respected leader such as yourself."

But Naveen Chand, police chief of the district of Chittoor where Kuppam is located, described the report of the woman being stoned to death as "probably not true".

He said: "Pavanamma had been suffering from HIV for 1<120>1/2 years and she died a natural death. But if the stoning charge is found to be true, all those found guilty will be severely punished."


But Mr Sreeram and other activists said that as Mr Naidu represented Kuppam in the state assembly, the police were attempting to hush up the case. "With witnesses, we can prove [the stoning] if the CBI or any human rights organisation steps in," he said.
From : Brian Haill,
The Australian AIDS Fund Inc.,