An Indian Health Minister Just Said Cancer Is 'Caused by Sins' and People Are Outraged
“God makes us suffer when we sin.”
An Indian health minister has said that people get cancer because of “divine justice”, sparking outrage in the country.
Himanta Biswa Sarma, a health minister from Assam state, blamed the “past sins” of cancer patients for their current suffering.
He also said people could get diseases like cancer “because of the sins of their parents,” speaking at a public event in Guwahati on Wednesday.
This man is a state health minister in India. Dear God. https://t.co/5oPjFlwDB7— Stanley Pignal (@spignal) November 23, 2017
Take action: Let’s Fight Against Future Diseases Together
“God makes us suffer when we sin,” he said, according to the Times of India. “Sometimes we come across young men getting inflicted with cancer or young men meeting with accidents. If you observe the background, you will come to know that it’s divine justice. Nothing else. We have to suffer that divine justice.”
He added: “In this lifetime or in our previous life, or perhaps my father or mother, perhaps that young man did not do [anything] but his father has done something wrong.”
Read more: This Pen Can Pinpoint Cancer in 10 Seconds
It has infuriated cancer patients, their families, the public, and opposition politicians — who are demanding a public apology for the “unfortunate” comments.
Horrendous.I lost my mom to cancer.She was t much loved & respected 'teacheramma' and not a sinner you are proclaiming cancer patients to be Mr.Sharma.This comment insults both the affected and their loved ones. @gulrayys@sanjayuvacha@priyankac19@bainjal@ranjona@sonaliranadehttps://t.co/lVQfb0Ew6u— Rekha Rao (@rekha49) November 22, 2017
Too enraged to resist tweeting. Shame on you @himantabiswa I pity you and your mindset. You are too insensitive to be an elected rep. Cancer is traumatic for patients and families. How will you pay for this sin? Awfully sick man #HimantaBiswaSarma— Supriya Shrinate (@SupriyaShrinate) November 23, 2017
I don’t tweet about personal issues.But I have to say this-my niece was only 11yrs old when she lost her father to cancer.Innumerable families have gone through the unspeakable pain & trauma of Cancer.I wouldn’t wish it even upon worst enemies.Shame on you Mr.Min @himantabiswahttps://t.co/eatFK35fsK— Smita Sharma (@Smita_Sharma) November 22, 2017
The All India United Democratic Front said the statement was an attempt to “cover his failure to control the spread of cancer in the state.”
Sarma, a member of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) later tweeted a clarification which only served to heighten the outrage.
Did my speech was on cancer? Who told you? I simply asked a new batch of teachers to work sincerely & work for poor.In that context I argue that if we do not work sincerely in next life we might face karmic deficiency & that may lead to sufferings .what is insensitive about this? https://t.co/jlCAbEdh7s— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) November 22, 2017
It is estimated that the number of new cancer cases in India will grow by 25% by 2020, according to research by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
A lack of awareness and testing means that only 12.5% of patients seek treatment in the early stages of the disease, according to the ICMR.
People like you who are running our country only indicates that India is at the receiving end of the Gita!! Shame on you!!— A Wicked Eye (@akshaykulks) November 23, 2017
A report by Ernst & Young said lack of awareness is partly to blame for a 5% increase in diagnoses among women in India. Some 2,000 Indian women are diagnosed with a form of cancer every day, according to the report, with 60% detected at a late stage.
Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the Global Goals, including for access to quality healthcare. You can join us by taking action here.