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Wednesday, 23 April 2008

India: Tamil Nadu man charged with rape for criminal HIV transmission to minors

A 48 year-old HIV-positive man in India's Tamil Nadu state has been charged with rape and intimidation after he allegedly had sex with two sisters, aged 12 and 15, who are also now HIV-positive.

The man is claiming he was unaware of his HIV status until very recently, but it is being reported that his wife committed suicide a year ago by setting herself on fire after finding out her husband's HIV status.

The parents of the girls were extremely reluctant to press charges, apparently, but were persuaded by an official from the Tamil Nadu AIDS Control Society.

The tragic story is reported in several Indian newspapers and websites, but the Daijiworld story, below, has details of the actual charges. Notably, there are no criminal HIV transmission laws in India.

Chennai: Two Minor Girls Fall Prey to HIV+ Rapist

Chennai, Apr 20: Parents of two minor girls from Kottangulam village near Srivilliputhur in Virudhunagar district are in shock. The district police on Saturday arrested a 38-year-old HIV positive man, a relative of one of the girls, based on a complaint that he had raped the two girls and passed on the deadly virus to them.

Police arrested Ayyappan, a mason, a day after the parents of the girls filed a complaint, and booked him under IPC 376 (rape) and 506 (1) (intimidation), district superintendent of police T Senthil Kumar told The Times of India over phone from Virudhunagar.

Even two months ago, the district staff of the Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society (TANSACS) came to know that the two girls had been infected with HIV and suspected that Ayyappan could be the culprit. "But we could not do anything without the parents cooperating with us," said a TANSACS staff, who did not want to be named.

Police said that Ayyappan, whose wife died a year ago after setting herself on fire, was a neighbor and relative of the unsuspecting girls, aged 12 and 15. Villagers say that the woman had killed herself after she came to know that her husband was HIV positive.

The victims, both school dropouts, were friends of Ayyappan’s daughter and they used to frequent one another’s house. The accused must have raped the girls over a period of time until a year ago, police said. When the girls began to fall sick frequently, doctors at the government hospital took tests for HIV and both confirmed positive for HIV. Though the test was taken six months ago, the shattered parents kept it under wraps fearing social stigma and also harassment from Ayyappan, who was one of the girls’ uncle.

They chose to lodge a complaint only on Friday night after much persuasion from a TANSACS official who was sent from Chennai to make enquiries about the allegation.

Ayyappan had apparently claimed that the girls were willing partners in the sexual act. "We have to verify this with the girls. Anyway it still amounts to rape as the victims are minors," said Senthil Kumar.

Ayyappan also claimed to have known about his HIV status only two days ago when he took a test in the hospital.

Taking a serious note of the incident, Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society (TANSACS) project director Supriya Sahu sent a team of officials to Srivilliputur for investigation and asked the district collector and the SP to take action.



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