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Is There Another “Apartheid”? Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Romi Nhung, Vietnam May 18, 2005
Human Rights   Opinions
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I was staggered to hear my favourite newsreader had committed suicide because of “it”. Two days later, I read from the Tienphong newspaper a tragic story about “its” other victim. These two recent sad news made me worried about “its” alarming, undeniable spreading. I fear for the fact that without appropriate education to people to eliminate “it”, there will be more tragedies, more sufferers and even more suicides.

I sincerely do not mean to remind people, especially South Africans, of the grievous past but, personally, I consider “it” another new Apartheid which is occurring worldwide. Many people may not aware of “it”; or, some may insist on their consciousness but when facing reality, they surrender and let “it” control them. Is there such a master, the “HIV-related stigma and discrimination?”

Story 1:

I still remember, about two months ago, my friends and I were chattering in class: “How I love her beautiful voice!” “I am more interested in the Newscast because of her, and I don’t want to miss any news she reads.” “You know what, she was a talented student at school!” “Her Russian accent is very nice too!” But now, we no longer can see her on TV nor listen to that gentle voice once again. She has gone forever.

No one knows exactly when she knew she was HIV-positive but it must have been really hard for her to accept the bitter fact that she was secondarily infected. How could a faithful woman like her expect to receive the virus from her husband? However smart she used to be, she naturally sank into despair. With a broken heart, the horror of HIV/AIDS happened to her and unfortunately, my beloved newsreader could not overcome her situation. She chose death to put an end to hermisery, without knowing that there were still some other ways out.

Story 2:

This time two years ago, Pham Ngoc Manh, a farmer in Ninh Binh, a province in the North of Vietnam was enjoying a normal life, laborious but happy, together with his small family. Now he is living “in exile” in Ho Chi Minh city, the biggest centre of the South, to get by with different work as a mason helper, a porter or a bike-guard; he is tasting the nostalgia, self-pity and indignation alone.

“It was a month after I became a labourer in Malaysia, then suddenly, I was sent back to Vietnam. The director of the Lasec Labour Exporting Company threw a 'writ' at me: You are HIV-positive; we have to terminate your contract. I was deadly shocked, but bitter; in fact, I am not infected with HIV/AIDS. Because of the unjust “fame” they imposed on me, I had to leave my village and my family in despair,” said Manh tearfully.

I do not know how Manh tested positive in Malaysia, but three tests in three different famous hospitals in Vietnam already proved that he is very healthy. The desire of a dignified labourer to renew life now turns to extreme depression because of the irresponsibility of the Lasec Company and the irrational discrimination of his villagers. He received only half of the 22 million VND he borrowed from a bank to invest on the Malaysia trip as a reimbursement from that company, as well as 44 USD that he was paid for his first and only month working abroad. Very few people believed his word and rumours about him were so strong that Manh helplessly fled to the South.

Within two stories above, two real examples have been revealed. My newsreader and Manh are poor victims of the “HIV-related stigma and discrimination.” One suddenly closed the last chapter of her life in a miserable ending, while the other, not even living with HIV/AIDS, is now more dead than alive. Manh confessed that no less than ten times, he had a thought to revenge life by breaking out all rules and trying “something as bad as possible”. He felt extremely hurt every time he remembered his six-year-old son sobbing: “Papa, my friends turn against me...”

Apparently, stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS vary from person to person and from place to place. However, we must precisely define it as a global threat which is merely caused by poor knowledge and the lack of appropriate information. In fact, some social investigations have shown that very few people are conscious enough of the menaces caused by the “HIV-related stigma and discrimination”. Hence, in propaganda and education, it is essential to balance information of the HIV/AIDS danger and a full warning against all stigma and discrimination.

To conclude, let’s open the booklet “Living in a world with HIV and AIDS: information for employees of the UN system and their families” published by UNAIDS in July 2004: “Stigma and discrimination threaten all of us. If we are HIV-positive, we may decide not to access care, treatment or counseling services or other entitlements for fear of being ostracized. It may also affect psychological and social stress and sometimes causing us to be depressed. For those of us who are HIV-negative, stigma and discrimination may affect our ability to protect ourselves and our families from HIV transmission by discouraging us from seeking information, prevention services, or HIV testing... HIV-related stigma and discrimination violate fundamental human rights, such as the right to be free from discrimination, the right to privacy, the right to health, and the right to information and education.” Together, we will abolish this disguised “Apartheid”!

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Romi Nhung

*^-^* Romi *^-^*

Ask the Possible of the Impossible, "Where is your dwelling-place?" "In the dreams of the Impotents," comes the answer.

~ Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)~

Dieu Hoa | Jul 2nd, 2005
Life has become more civilized day by day and people also have changed a lot. In many countries, unsound costums have been rejected. However, in other countries bad costums still exist in our modern life, and “Apartheid” are one of clear examples about this problem. In South Africa, this had terribly damaged people's life and now it is still happening. Not only in South Africa but also in other countries in the world, we can see this unsound costum. Many people are being hurt seriously by this unfair life. Our world can not continue to develop to be more civilized unless we together ABOGRATE “Apartheid”. Do it for a better life !!!

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