By Taniya Dutta
Three Indian sisters are being humiliated because of an incurable condition that has caused hundreds of dark spots that cover their face and body.
Palak, 12, Aaliyah, 8, and Alizah, 6, suffer from an extreme form of a rare skin condition called Xeroderma Pigmentation – a genetic disorder in which the patient has an extreme sensitivity to ultraviolet rays from sunlight.
The siblings cannot sit in sunlight even for a minute as the rays burn their skin, causing blisters with extensive itching that leads to bleeding.
Because of the condition, the girls born with “milky-white” skin have frightening layers of sunburns in their skin, turning their face and body into dark and patchy layers.
Their devastated parents, father Shafiq Mohammad, 34, and Jhuvi Bano, 30, from a remote village in Madhya Pradesh in central India, say they have tried hundreds of creams and lotions, consulted faith healers and medical practitioners for help but in vain.
Jhuvi said: “We have seen at least ten doctors other than faith healers since she first had these spots. We have gone other cities and states for consultation with big doctors but nothing has worked.
“Doctors give a long list of lotions, creams, shampoos and soaps for use. But even after regular use for the recommended period, we see no improvement.
“Their condition is only getting worse with time.”
Jhuvi, who has three other daughters but with healthy skin, says her firstborn Palak had a beautiful, soft skin but when she turned nine months old, she noticed blisters on her face.
Thinking it was from the severe heat in the summer, the new mum ignored the blisters until they turned pitch dark and started falling off.
She said: “She was born very fair, like milk. But as she grew her skin started turning dark. One day I noticed red blisters on her face. It was in July and I thought it was because of the heat. We applied ice and creams.
“But after a few days they turned black and then started peeling off. The sight was really scary.
“My husband and I quickly took her to a local doctor. He gave us lotions to apply for a month but they did not go. Instead her condition only worsened.”
Jhuvi and her husband Shafiq, who is jobless, borrowed £500 from friends and relatives for Palak’s treatment.
The hopeless parents did not take Aaliyah and Alizah for doctors as they ran out of both money and hope for a possible cure.
Shafiq said: “After Palak’s birth we were scared to have other kids. But two years after our second daughter Zoya was born, she escaped this condition. However, my third and fourth daughters got it.
“We had exhausted all the money we had borrowed over the years on Palak’s treatment but when we saw no improvement, we stopped taking her to doctors. In fact, we never took Aaliyah and Alizah to doctors.”
Their mother said her daughters are forced to live a restricted life as people are scared of them.
The girls were enrolled to a nearby state-run school but they opted out after receiving bitter taunts from classmates.
Jhuvi said: “They are living a miserable life. They have no friends in the village and they don’t go to school.
“I wanted them to study and do something in life but al the three were humiliated by other students. They came crying one day and declared they will not go back to school.
“The adults in the village are also indifferent to them. They call them ‘chitkabri’ or spotty, or ‘blacky’. It is hurtful to see my children suffering like this.
“They cry and ask me why they are not beautiful like their sisters or children in the village. She can sense that she is not beautiful.
“I do not know what will happen to my daughters. No one will marry them. I do not know where will they go after we die.”