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Social Effects

There is rejection and ostracism often associated with arsenic poisoning.   Such rejection and ostracism are found most often in the poor and very poor of rural areas, and affects women much more than men.


Let us look at an example, of a wife and mother (Sakhina) with arsenic poisoning in a rural area.  The following account is in her own words.

Visible signs of arsenic can lead to ostracism, divorce and other signs of rejection.

Three years back I started feeling that I am losing appetite. Then I found black spots in different parts of my body. A rural quack told me not to worry. But those spots got larger day by day. I had severe pains in those spots. People around me started saying that you are caught with leprosy which is caused by evil spirits and some sin committed by you. People around me started neglecting me, including even my household members. The marriage of my third daughter was about to be ready. The [groom]-side came and said that they are not agreeable to this marriage because I have a serious disease. My daughter has no spots like me. She is frustrated; and she no more visits her peers. My husband blames me, and at times warns me of an imminent divorce. What shall I do? What is my fault?.

The social effects of arsenic also can’t be ignored.  It affects children’s cognitive abilities; there are economic problems when people become impaired and can’t work or go to school.   For the poor, who for many reasons suffer the greatest effects, these conditions lead to yet another poverty trap.

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