COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s Minister of Education, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam has said that five year old Rehan Dilshara, shunned by local schools for being “HIV Positive”, cannot be admitted to a normal school, and that he will get a court order to put the child in a Probationary Institution.
Kariyawasam said this to the media on Saturday, though Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena had assured Dilshara’s mother, Chandani de Soyza, that he will see that the boy is admitted to a school.
“People are opposing the child’s admission because they have no understanding of the issue,” the President had said.
But holding his ground, Kariyawasam quoted the local Director of Education as saying that Dilshara’s father had died of AIDS and that Chandani is HIV Positive.
The Minister went on to say that the mother could pass on the virus to her son by simply lying next to him. In view of this, he said he would seek a Court order to separate the mother and child and put the latter in an institution run by the Department of Probation and Child Care.
Kariyawasam contended that he cannot turn a deaf ear to the pleas of the people of Kuliyapitiya to keep the child out of schools in the area, because they had voted him for him. He blamed the media and the human rights lobby for blowing the issue out of proportion.
However, Senany Dayaratne, lawyer for Chandani, told Express that the medical records given to him did not substantiate Kariyawasam’s contentions.
“Even assuming that the mother is HIV positive, there is only a very remote possibility of her child getting infected, because the AIDS virus is transmitted either through sexual intercourse or an intravenous injection. At any rate, it is against the law and constitution to deny any child a school education, especially on the plea that he can get infected and infect other children, in turn. It is also wrong to separate the child from the mother,” Dayaratne said.
The Fundamental Rights Petition filed by Chandani and her son in the Supreme Court on March 1, seeking admission to a school, is likely to come up for hearing in the second week of this month.