Shafiq R Khan


Mewat and risk of HIV

Mewat is one of the districts of Haryana; the area is a distinct ethnic and socio-cultural tract.
The Meos, who traces their roots to the early Aryan invasion of Northern India, call themselves Kshatriyas. During the regime of the Tughlak dynasty in the 14th century A.D., these people embraced Islam but till the day, they have maintained their age-old distinctive ethno-cultural identity. The region has been extremely turbulent and has been subject to repeated invasions and resultant plundering throughout the post-Vedic period, largely due to the situational peculiarity of the area and the non-subjugate attitude of the people. The destruction and devastation over the centuries resulted in backwardness and gross under-development of both the area and its proud people. The district comprises of six blocks namely Nuh, Tauru, Nagina, Firozpur Jhirkha, Punhana and Hathin. There are 513 villages in the district. The total population in the area is around 391178000 (estimated 2003) wherein few other organization are working such as PRATHAM and Sahgal foundation in the field of education and health.
Mewat has remained a region of backwardness even after independence. The area lags behind the rest of Haryana on almost every yardstick of development indices, even though the farthest point of Mewat is no farther than 80 Km. from the National Capital of India.
There are very few government dispensaries and nursing homes which provides medical services at low cost and free vaccinations. However, the problem comes that the awareness level within the community men and women is very low. While interacting with the community women of Mewat, Nagina,Punhana, Firojpur jirkha it was being observed that they don’t know any thing about STD\ HIV\AIDS and even the common disease about malaria. Through the community mapping in the area and interacting with the Registered Medical Practitioners (RMPs), quacks, it was found that there is high prevalence of viral infections including STDs/STIs in the area. The very common reason is due to unclean attitude towards the external environment, which is the community and home, as well as internal environment i.e. health status.
Another problem related to health of the individuals is that the area is vulnerable towards women trafficking (Paro or molki system) and therefore there is high prevalence of HIV-AIDS as well as other STIs and STDs diseases. As most of the male community are truck driver. It is generally accepted that truck driver have been continuous to be a main force in the spread of HIV to epidemic proportions. Truck driver works long on the roads an seeking entertainment, they turn to sex with women or girls in the prostitution who are at the risk of being HIV\AIDS positive and transmitting HIV to the driver. Another problem is of STD and STI which is now being found at a great number amongst girls of 12-15 years of age because of lack of awareness in this area
Community awareness is the main factor in this area as the condition of women’s in this area is not good. The vulnerability and risk of rural population to HIV\AIDS is influenced by:
Access to health services: Rural areas tend to have fewer health providers and other health services than urban areas. Some areas are very remotely located and difficult to reach and without services. High rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and poor access to care and treatment: Several studies have revealed high rates of STDs among truck drivers, indicating high levels of risky sexual behavior. The presence of these STDs and lack of access to adequate medical care and treatment increase their vulnerability to HIV infection. STD patient have more chance to get infect with HIV then the geranial patient .Like Biwan is 10km far away from the Firojpur Jhirka but to reach their takes 2 hours due to bad condition of roads and transport.

Literacy and awareness: There is low awareness and knowledge about HIV/AIDS and STIs in these areas, and high levels of illiteracy compound this knowledge deficit. In addition, talking about sex is often taboo. Women are not going to school and participating any public campaign; even they can not watch television and play any game.

Truck Driver: Long distance truck drivers and bus driver often are not well educated or informed and lack knowledge about HIV and STDs, and how to protect themselves. This, coupled with frequent alcohol consumption, can lead to poor judgment and increased high risk behavior. They spend a lot of time away from home, are removed from social structures, separated from spouses or partners, and may engage in high risk sexual behaviors, become infected and upon return to their homes, may also infect their spouses.

Hidden Concept of Karewa or levirate: - In this tradition, women’s brother-in-law, elder or younger (jeth or dewar), are entitled to make physical relations with the women.

Paro: Purchased women (Human trafficking):- According to Our study (supported by Jagori) 80% paro women are transferred more than 2 or 3 times from one man to other man in this region. Paro is a new face of Kareva, a member of Panchayat of Saleh-hedi village admitted this fact. He says, “ bhai swaad len ke maare mol ki lyavain hain, saaryan ka kaam chalya reh ar ghar main lugai dikhe ja”( they import molki for satisfying their sexual needs, all the brothers take advantage of her and for the neighbors they have a bride to show).
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