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Goodbye Sister Jean
July 24, 2011 2:16 PM   Subscribe

Leprosy in India has officially been eliminated since 2005 as prevalence of the disease has fallen to historic lows. But what was once a public health issue sometimes looks more like a political or religious one as some of the Christian charities that treat victims come under sustained pressure.

This is especially the case in Bangalore, Karnataka, where anti-Christian attacks reached a crescendo in 2008 following allegations of forced conversions. In July 2009 the ruling BJP party decided to take back the land leased to the Sumanahalli Society, a charity serving leprosy and AIDS sufferers as well as orphans. The BJP has some form in its treatment of Christians. In June this year, a Catholic former army officer was beaten up by Hindu extremists and charged by police with religious offences as he led a service for leprosy victims.

Now, after 30 years in the country treating leprosy sufferers, a British nun is set to leave the country as her visa has not been renewed.
posted by MuffinMan (17 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Note: despite "elimination", new cases of leprosy run at a rate of 130,000 per year. Some unofficial estimates place this number much higher.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:21 PM on July 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Eliminated" means <1 infection : 10,000 citizens. In a nation of 1.2 billion, that's still a lot of leprosy.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:38 PM on July 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Based on the title of this post, I suspect you buried what you intended to be your lede.
posted by hippybear at 2:52 PM on July 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


[you know the drill -- early threadshitting from people who haven't read the links who want to just grind their own axes will be removed and you will be politely requested to take that up in MetaTalk or on some other non-MetaFilter internet space. Thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 3:10 PM on July 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


So, I keep running into information similar to this, which states that Novartis gave a donation which funds the supply of Multiple Drug Therapy blisterpacks of leprosy treatment available to endemic countries until 2010... but then nothing beyond that.

Are these drugs still being supplied free of charge to endemic countries to use to cure leprosy? It's difficult to tell. If not, I hope that starts up again. Someone should tell The Gates Foundation or something. It's probably a tiny droplet of funding in the giant river of money they give out every year.
posted by hippybear at 3:27 PM on July 24, 2011


It's wrong, but LEPER spelled backwards is REPEL.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:52 PM on July 24, 2011


You know, I'm not big on religion; but if one religion is helping you, providing you with housing and medical care while your own is calling you "unclean" and "impure," why wouldn't you convert?
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:05 PM on July 24, 2011 [13 favorites]


Just wait until Jenny McCarthy goes there.
posted by stormpooper at 4:59 PM on July 24, 2011


Not sure what the odds are of this happening nowadays, but an Australian family of Christian / leper missionaries were burned to death in their car by Hindus in 1999.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:20 PM on July 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Despite being generally opposed to the Church, I've got to say that's remarkably awful behavior on the part of India.

"Thanks for 30 years of helping the lepers that the local religions won't help, don't let the door hit you on the way out!"

I get that Indians are upset at secret baptisms, forced conversions, etc; Mother Theresa did a lot of harm and so does the general attitude of the Church. But it's still really nasty of the government to pull this kind of crap.

Especially given the staggering mistreatment and ostracism of lepers in India. They're prohibited from obtaining driver's licenses, they're prohibited from traveling by train, and in five states they're legally barred from running in local elections (a prohibition that has been upheld by the Indian Supreme Court).

If the Roman Catholic Church is willing to help, well I don't like the Church but I still say yay, and I say boo to the people driving them out.
posted by sotonohito at 6:24 PM on July 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's wrong, but LEPER spelled backwards is REPEL.

LLEYTON spelled backwards is NOT YELL.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:02 PM on July 24, 2011


Several things stand out for me about this issue. 1 Hindus think lepers are dirty.

Christians going all the way back
to Jesus have an honorable tradition of helping lepers.

Then there is the little matter of the
BJP, not nice people. It is not only lepers and various Christians being
harassed, lower caste Hindus get harassed. In fact the harassment of
Protestant Christians, Muslims and Budhists is really a way ofcontinuing the war on lower caste Hindus. Many become Christian or Muslim and Budhism is enjoying a resurgence in India, because all three faiths reject caste and teach people to help the sick.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 7:29 PM on July 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


On the one hand, the BJP are shitcocks. On the other hand:

I get that Indians are upset at secret baptisms, forced conversions, etc; Mother Theresa did a lot of harm and so does the general attitude of the Church. But it's still really nasty of the government to pull this kind of crap.

Would you tell Jews upset to just, you know, "get over" the secret baptisms and forced conversions? I don't personally set much store by religion, but I get that those are not small things for people who do.
posted by rodgerd at 10:49 PM on July 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why is it when the some derivation of the word "people" appears in a political party, when they get into power you can pretty much count on that being who is about to get the shit kicked out of them.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:18 AM on July 25, 2011


rodgerd No, and that's not what I'm suggesting the people in India should do either.

But dealing with the problems of secret baptism does not have to involve fucking over the Catholics who are doing good things.

I'm pretty virulently against the Catholic Church, but I still recognize that the BJP are being completely obnoxious here.
posted by sotonohito at 6:23 AM on July 25, 2011


I heard that in Sri Lanka the Buddhists, before the illegal genocide of the Tamils/war thing, claimed that Christians were practising 'forced conversions'. Given that in India a woman is assumed to be whatever the religion of her husband is once she marries, without consent (in practise, not in theory/law), and that this 'forced conversions' claim is incited everywhere religious hatred is except in the first world, because we don't believe you can be magically forced because we don't believe in magic, i'd pay the claims little heed. And no, i'm not a fan of the condom-lying-about, kiddy-fiddling aspects of the church, but a lot of religious people give a lot of service. I think it's more common amongst religious people than irreligious, because you live under this guilt trip...talking nonsense now, will go.
posted by maiamaia at 2:36 PM on July 25, 2011


maiamaia writes "that this 'forced conversions' claim is incited everywhere religious hatred is except in the first world, because we don't believe you can be magically forced because we don't believe in magic"

There was a big thread about this in the guise of secretive retro active Mormon Baptisms just last month. The issue seems alive and well in the US. Or at least the belief that one can be magically forced to convert to a religion against one's will.
posted by Mitheral at 4:20 PM on July 25, 2011


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