HYDERABAD: She’s just 13 and mentally challenged. As ill-luck would have it, she’s tested positive for HIV too. More than all this, what worries her parents are her suicidal tendencies. Fatima Begum (name changed) from the Old City had dropped out of school last year after she and her parents came to know that she had AIDS.
“To this day, we don’t know how she has contracted the deadly virus.
We took her to the Niloufer Hospital 10 months ago when she became so weak that she couldn’t even walk. There the doctors confirmed that she has AIDS,” recalls her mother, adding that “she tries to commit suicide often.
” Fatima Begum has been under treatment at the Pediatric Center for Excellence in HIV where she had been referred to by the Child Guidance Bureau (CGB).
Fatima’s case is not an isolated incident.
Like her, every month over 1,100 teenagers from different places in and around the twin cities visit the CGB for counselling.
All of them have more or less the same psycological problems and suicidal tendencies.
The causes for the same range from as silly as obesity and looks to as serious as HIV and other medical issues.
The CGB is a special wing in the Department of Juvenile Welfare, Correctional Service and Welfare of Street Children.
It has set up a separate unit called, Yuva . The Future, on the premises of the Niloufer Hospital for guiding and counselling children to prevent juvenile delinquency.
According to officials, at least 35-45 teenagers, suffering from psychological problems visit the unit every day. Of the over 1100 that visit every month, 75 per cent are girls. “The teenage girls and boys brought to the centre face social and psychological problems and have suicidal tendencies.
Some want to commit suicide because of poor academic performance.
Some others have family problems. There are those also who want to end life because either they are physically weak or mentally challenged,” explains M Uma Devi, senior child counsellor at CGB.
N Soma Shekar, psychologist at CGB, adds, “these adolescent boys and girls have problems related to body image, sexual and reproductive health, sexual abuse, drug abuse, premarital relationships, life and study skills.” Of all the patients, over 5 per cent have strong suicidal tendencies.
“We treat them as special cases and provide medical and moral support,” he explains. The CGB also makes sure that the parents also respect their child’s rights, privacy, confidentiality and adopt a non-discriminative approach.
The most alarming aspect of it all is that the number of children in need of counselling has been increasing year after year. In 2009-10, the number of patients at CGB was 500 per month. In 2010-11 the number touched 800 and in 2011-12, it has crossed 1,100.