Women folk dancers were tested for HIV/AIDS by health department officials before they attended a fair at a temple for Goddess Sita in Madhya Pradesh’s Ashoknagar district. The three-day event started yesterday.
The Rai folk dancers were checked for HIV/AIDS at a makeshift facility in the temple.
The event is being held at the Karila Mata-Janaki Mata Temple, the location where devotees believe Goddess Sita gave birth to Luv and Kush.
According to the National AIDS Control Organisation, the three key rights for HIV/AIDS testing are right to informed consent, right to confidentiality, and right against discrimination.
Broadly explained, testing for HIV needs specific and informed consent of the person being tested and for any research and information sharing. In addition, a person has the right to keep information on HIV status confidential and can use a pseudonym. An HIV-positive person also has the right to be treated equally as per the fundamental rights covered under the law and the Constitution.
But the HIV/AIDS testing of the women folk dancers at the religious fair was filmed and photos were circulated on social media, drawing trolls who commented all kinds of things on them.
“It’s not the first year that Rai folk dancers were tested for HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis-B. This was the second straight year that the tests have been conducted. The tests of the 10 women folk dancers which were conducted with their visible consent, and in no way meant we were doubting them,” Ashoknagar chief medical officer Dr Neeraj Chhari said. “But to be on the safer side the tests were conducted,” he added.
The Rai folk dance is performed by the Bedia community.
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