HIV-Positive Students Forced To Wear Ribbons At School
School officials in Tanzania meet criticism for recent rule
Sounds like the Scarlett Letter all over again.
School officials in Tanzania have rubbed a few people the wrong way with their decision to make all HIV-positive students wear special ribbons notifying others of their status.
Mohammed Lukema, the headmaster of Kibaha Primary School says that the ribbons were actually the parents' idea, saying that they want to prevent the sickly children from performing certain tasks at school such as sweeping the floor or fetching water. Five percent of the population in Tanzania is living with HIV.
"Our school has pupils who are suffering from various diseases. The school and the society at large have decided to label pupils' uniforms," he says. "In our school we put a red label on the pupils' collars to identify them."
Not everybody is buying that story though.
"They are only doing that because they want to identify those who are HIV-positive," says Jane Tibihita, a co-ordinator of Upendo Partnership to the BBC.
Rebecca Mshumbusi, chairperson of the Kibaha Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS says that the act is actually illegal.
"The information of one's sickness is confidential unless if one decides to share it with others," she says. "There are laws that can punish those revealing other's health status."
Tanzania's HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act if it can be proven that a person has stigmatized another over their health status, they could be sentenced up to three years in prison.
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