Aids under the lens

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Magnum Photographers have been travelling the world to tell the stories of sufferers of HIV and Aids as part of a ChristianAid project. Photographer Patrick Zachmann, whose lens tells the story of women in India, explains

 

I went to India on an assignment for ChristianAid. It was new territory for me even though I was visiting India for the third time in as many years. Previously I’d photographed women taking power in rural areas. But this project was about Aids and, more specifically, about the stigma of Aids in Indian society.

India seems, to people from the outside, to be a peaceful country, a peaceful people. This is absolutely true in some ways, but also totally wrong. I found parts of society to be very violent. The injustice and differences between caste and social development is very high. Violence is common against women and children.

The women I met in India living with HIV and Aids were not completely ostracised from society. It would be too strong to say that. At the moment I met them they had all gone through a very, very difficult period where they were excluded by family and neighbours, but were coming through it. I met a woman whose mother didn’t want to help her or see her, because she was fearful of catching Aids. Such women face exclusion from their own children sometimes. They really have to fight.

These women were not responsible for catching Aids. They caught it from their husbands. Women are often not told by their partners that they have Aids and are at risk of infection. I felt very strongly the unfairness that these women were infected by men who refuse to recognise or admit that they themselves have the virus.

Men die of Aids in India. This is apparently very common for because men refuse to get treated. They don’t believe they have it, so they die. When they die the villagers find out and the wife, who has caught the virus too, finds herself a widow, alone and (very often) suffering from Aids too.

One of the women I spoke to, Jyothi’s, daughter is suffering from HIV too. Jyothi kept her girl with her but had to send her boy to a monastery because she could not take care of both. The monastery is far away and it is a really tough life. She told me that when she calls him, he’s crying all the time. The girl has had treatment and both she and her mother are responding to that. Jyothi has had the virus for 10 years now. In a way, she is well. That was one of the things I found remarkable. Before meeting her I read about the case and thought ‘This is going to be terrible’. But the reality of her situation was much better. She doesn’t yet have Aids, and her HIV is managed with medication and support from NGOs.

Such women are very positive. They have faced very difficult periods and overcome them. It’s not like following somebody who is going to die. They are surviving and fighting because of their children. The women in India that I’ve met are like leaders, like tigers, and they are really fighting. It’s very sad that they are suffering, but it is encouraging to see them so strong.

Patrick and other Magnum photographers have documented people in Bolivia, Tajikistan, India, Kenya and the UK for an exhibition Stigma under the Lens . Preview the images in the above image gallery.

World Aids Day: Victory within reach – but cuts could spoil it all
New 'Lite' approach could save more lives with less money
Hillary Clinton: We must not waste this historic opportunity
Elton John on the streets with Ukraine's lost generation
Carla Bruni-Sarkozy: Mothers, babies and HIV
Jeffrey Sachs: Politicians just don't care enough to tackle this scourge
Jeremy Laurance: States need to back up fine words with hard cash if great leap forward is not to be wasted
Leading article: Belt-tightening can't apply to Aids
Aids under the lens
World Aids Day: Thirty-four million reasons to act

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

    Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

    £120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

    Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

    £70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

    £24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

    Day In a Page

    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
    Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

    Front National family feud?

    Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
    Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

    Pot of gold

    Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
    10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

    From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

    While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
    Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore