Public interest groups under the banner of AHF India Cares, floated by leading global AIDS organisation ‘AIDS Healthcare Foundation”, today held a rally in Delhi to protest against the apathy by chocolate giant Hershey and called for the boycott of its products in India.
The demonstration by AIDS advocates including a few people living with HIV/AIDS was organised as part of the world wide protests against the denial of admission to a 13-year-old boy by Milton Hershey School in the United States.
“The multinational candy maker, instead of sweetening the young lives across the world, has chosen to make the life of a kid extremely bitter by denying admission in their school. We strongly condemn the blatant discrimination by the company and urge all Indians to boycott their products,” said Dr Shibu Cheruvelil, AHF/India Country Programme Manager, while addressing the rally.
The Hershey School, a prestigious boarding school for academically gifted, low-income scholarship students in the US and funded by a trust from the company, recently rejected admission to the boy, calling his HIV status a “direct threat to the health and safety of others.” This has triggered widespread protests across the world, mainly orchestrated by AIDS Healthcare Foundation through its chapters in many countries.
“The step that is fuelled by prejudice and fear has a far-reaching impact across the world at a time when organisations and the governments are trying to ensure equality to the HIV-infected and bring them to the social mainstream,” Dr Shibu continued.
“This rally is an eye-opener. We want to send a strong advocacy message against stigma and discrimination, which is also widely witnessed in India too. Boycotting of Hershey products is meant to increase awareness about this social issue,” he added.
In February this year, Indian newspapers brought to the fore a similar case of blatant discrimination by reporting the case of a Madurai school boy who was subjected to indignities because of his HIV-positive status, a release said.