This Brave Woman Shares Her Experience Of Surviving TB In A Patriarchal Society

Deepti Chavan, a survivor of tuberculosis (TB) who is featured in this essay, is also chronicled in a book called “Nine Lives — Women and Tuberculosis in India”.

The book records the journeys of women surviving TB in a patriarchal society, where they often have limited access to health services and little agency to negotiate for their own well-being. They live with stigma, fear and are discriminated against after being infected with TB.

Picture Credit: Rohit Saha

“They (other women)tell me that they cannot tell their in-laws that they have TB. They have to hide the fact that they are taking treatment. They take all the medicines at night, when everyone is sleeping. The husbands want divorce. They are thrown our of their houses. They are kept away from their children- just because they have TB.”

Picture Credits: Prachi Gupta

“There is another drug called Clofazamine, which makes your complexion dark. It is basically a dye. I was afraid to look in the mirror. All your life, you look a certain way, and you are used to that. So the drastic change in appearance did affect me.”

Picture Credits: Parchi Gupta

“When I first wanted to speak (about my TB), many people advised me otherwise. They said, ‘its in your past. Why do you have to tell anyone? You are well now, and that’s what matters.’ But for me, I think those six years of treatment and two surgeries, make a very powerful story.”

Grab from the film on stigma:

“Right now I am focusing on being an advocate for patients, because I don’t think I can do anything besides dealing with TB related issues. I cannot treat patients but I can help them in other ways.”