Women’s rights activists flay Akila for trying to separate child from ‘HIV positive’ mother

Kariyawasam says he has already found a school for the child and will look after the family


By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

Women’s rights activists yesterday condemned Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam for publicly calling for the separation of a child in Kuliyapitiya from his mother, after being denied school admission due to rumours that his mother is HIV positive

Minister Kariyawasam has told the media that the Zonal Education Director told him the boy’s mother was HIV positive and his father had died of AIDS and, therefore, the child should be separated from his mother and placed in probationary care.

The JVP women’s wing, Women For Rights (WFR) President Samanmali Gunasinghe told The Island the Education Minister of Sri Lanka had given the impression to the people that children should be separated from HIV positive mothers.

It was a clear violation of human rights of both the mother and child, she said.

Gunasinghe stressed that it was the government that had acted in a very irresponsible way.

Women and Media Collective (WMC) Programme/Research Associate Kumudini Samuel also condemned Minister Kariyawasam’s statement. She claimed his statement amounted to a violation of the human rights of the mother.

She also noted that the women’s rights should be included in the new constitution and protected.

The AIDS Foundation of Lanka (AFL) Research and Programmes Director Dr. Sarojini Perera said Education Minister’s recent statement would have a negative impact on the ongoing HIV tests as there was a clear risk that people might refuse to undergo tests.

She also said there were around 75 HIV positive children in Sri Lanka at present but for the last two years there was not a single case of mother-to child HIV transmission had been reported. HIV tests had been made compulsory for all pregnant mothers, she said.

Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, contacted for comment, said that he had already found a school for the child but couldn’t reveal any details due to obvious reasons.

"I, too, have kids. Therefore, I did not mean any harm and wanted to do what was best for the child. I have already arranged for the child and his mother to be looked after."

animated gif
Processing Request
Please Wait...