02 July 2010
By Anuradha Mascarenhas
Moving on participants cite emotional support to mere hope as objective, organisers content with people expressing their needs freely
WHEN deputy re gional transport officer Anil Valiv from Solapur set up www.positivesaathi.com –the country’s first matrimonial website for HIV–positive persons –little did he know that the response could be so overwhelming.
On Sunday, the Agrasen Bhavan Hall at Raviwar Peth saw over 150 HIV–positive persons gathering together in the hope of finding a suitable life partner and at least 10 marriages were re portedly fixed at the meet.
Valiv had provided the travelling expenses to around 50 women who came from as far as Gondia, Yavatmal and even Raipur in Chhattisgarh for the meet, for he feels HIV–positive women –especially widows –need to be encouraged to come forward and voice their expectations about remarriage. The meet was organised by Wake Up Pune –a group of NGOs engaged in creating awareness about HIV –and organisers of Pune Zilla Agarwal Yuva Sammelan, aarogya.com and posi tivesaathi.com.
The parents of a 22–yearold woman from Ganesh Peth waited the entire day at the hall in the hope of finding a suitable match for her.
“My daughter’s husband died of AIDS two years ago; she has the virus,” said her father, a tailor. “These meetings are a positive step as we can come here without the fear of any stigma.”
For another 26–year–old working woman from Mumbai, the meeting was also an opportunity to meet other like–minded people. “Even if I am working in Mumbai, my employers are not aware of my HIV status,” she said in fluent English. An HIV positive widow with no children, she had also registered her name on the website and decided to try her luck in finding a life partner.
Urvashi, an HIV–positive widow from Hadapsar, who struggles to make ends meet with a six–year–old son was hoping to meet a widower with children at the meet.
“At least we can understand our problems and jointly look after the children.”
Ramabhai, 40, a widow with an 18–year–old daughter, had come from Yavatmal with hopes of a remar riage. “After my daughter gets married, I do not want to spend the rest of my life alone. I need emotional support and hope to find a partner who feels the same.”
Valiv said over the past three years, they had seen 30 success stories of HIV–positive persons getting remarried from among the 1,800 registrations. “It’s difficult, but people are at least expressing their emotional needs freely.” Rahul Pharande of vivah.aarogya.com said his site saw 17 instances of HIV persons remarrying from among the 600 registrations.
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