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Pune’s Dapodi slum inhabitants face leprosy affected social stigma

The people who came to live in Dapodi were treated by state hospital located in Pune. However, after almost 30 years, the families, now second generation, still fight ostracism. Reason? Social stigma.

pune Updated: Oct 30, 2018 18:23 IST
Nozia Sayyed
Nozia Sayyed
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,Leprosy Social stigma,Dapodi
Known as a leprosy-affected shantytown, this slum in Dapodi is home to as many as 243 families who were once suffering from leprosy. (REUTERS/HT)

Known as a leprosy-affected shantytown, this slum in Dapodi is home to as many as 243 families who were once suffering from leprosy. The people who came to live in Dapodi were treated by state hospital located in Pune. However, after almost 30 years, the families, now second generation, still fight ostracism. Reason? Social stigma.

Leprosy Union is an NGO run by Satish Savant, who says, “People from various states and cities live here. Most of them were thrown away by their families, left to die and many were even issued death certificates so that the diseased patients do not return. Now those people got married to each other as nobody was accepting them outside of their slum; produced healthy babies who are now in their 20s and 30s. However, due to the stigma attached to this disease, many of these children are finding it difficult to find life partners.”

‘We still continue to distribute prophylactic medicines among the people here and teach them how to work independently and not rely on any person. The deformity often leads to lack of confidence not only in the patient but also their children. However we are working towards the same by educating masses and conducting awareness workshops for all,” says Savant.

One such slum resident, Vineet (name changed), says, “Both my parents were leprosy positive, but I never developed the symptoms. Now I am 32-years-old and nobody is willing to marry me due to my parents’ history. In fact, I am told to leave my parents and never utter a word about leprosy again if I want to get married. Similarly, many of my friends too are facing the same stigma. This has led to severe depression among all of us.”

Savant says, “The state should also prioritise rehabilitation of such people in this slum.”

First Published: Oct 30, 2018 18:22 IST