Cycle of Violence – “STOP”

Burn Awareness

A good relationship is one which is filled with love, respect, mutuality, honest and all other emotional components which can at times also be filled with ugliness of power, control and violence. . The Pattern of violent behaviour can happen with the interpersonal relationship which diverges from one another.

The use of physical force so as to injure, abuse, damage or destroy is violence. It victimizes a person based on gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, where maximum number accounts for the domestic violence that happens against women. The estimates for violence from community-based studies vary from 18% to 70%.

WHO definition of violence:

“The intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation.”

Cycle of Violence:

The cycle of violence is typically associated with violence that occurs in the context of interpersonal relationships like risk of abusing the partner. The cycle of Violence starts with certain triggering factors which include – individual factors, relationship factors, community factors and societal factors:

Individual factors:

Heavy alcohol consumptions, Depression, Personality disorders, Low academic achievement, Low income, witnessing or experiencing violence as a child.

Relationship factors:

Marital conflict, marital instability, male dominance, economic stress and poor family functioning.

Community factors:

Weak community sanctions against domestic violence, poverty, and low social capital.

Societal factors:

Traditional gender norms, social norms supportive of violence

A country raising its voice against the violence counter to women has so far ignored a health concern that is taking a heavier toll than the most serious health conditions.

The health concern that hasn’t become a talking point yet — burn injuries — claims 91,000 lives of women on average every year. In almost all cases it is the kitchen in the marital home where the woman ostensibly blunders, putting her life at risk. And most victims are young in a productive age group of 15 and 34.

A recently-published paper on ‘Gendered pattern of burn injuries in India: A neglected health issue’ in the Reproductive Health Matters (RHM) journal seeks that this gender violence be made a public health issue.  The paper notes that it has never been explored why young girls die of accidental burns after marriage, but cook safely in their natal homes. Citing from the above study conducted by Bhate-Deosthali and Lakshmi Lingam, alleged 40% of the 200 burns cases she analysed were suicidal or homicidal and the remaining were reported as accidental. But police cases were registered only in 5% of the cases. The RHM also paper points out that unlike road traffic accidents, ‘kitchen accident’ deaths have not prompted any campaign to make kitchens safe.

“With no disrespect to other forms of violence against women, those who suffer from burns suffer uniquely because of overt social stigma and family rejection, and most of them only more because they are poor, uneducated or unskilled,” said PCVC Founder and CEO Prasanna Gettu and Rashmi Singh the Director, Programmes at PCVC (International Centre for Crime Prevention & Victim Care), an organization that works in the space of violence against women. They have a flagship project called Vidiyal that supports women burn survivors.

Another area of concern is dowry-related violence which is an important reason for bride burning or dowry deaths. Abuse and distress were among the common reason’s which stimulates the victimssetting her alight. But mostly the incidents are recorded as “accidental” or “no information”.  This validates that the victims fear police investigation.

Vimochana – a women’s group reported unnatural deaths of women in marriages in Bangalore city and found that 70% of these reported deaths of young brides were closed as accidental deaths. 43 Police reports recorded 1,200 such unnatural deaths. Vimochana found several loopholes in police investigations, the post mortem and dying declarations. Their report compelled the police to re-open 100 cases where they found that these unnatural deaths were due to domestic violence and/or dowry harassment.

Domestic violence cases now be resolved out of court, with the guidance of NGOs, counsellors and police, who will counsel a woman in regard to the course of action which she can take including mediation/joint counselling with her spouse/husband or her family members/in-laws.

Historically, acid attacks have been acts of revenge over perceived rejection by a woman. While such cases still form the largest single reason for acid violence which is one of the dreadful violence happening against women

It is most important to expand the definition of data related to burns. We need a system where probable reasons for burn injuries are recorded. This will involve systemic change where the survivor is given the time and sufficient support to speak up about the history of violence that she has faced. This will prevent burn injuries from falling under the ‘all accident’ classification.Furthermore, hospitals should be able to provide domestic violence-informed care.

Most of the violence cases are undocumented because of further isolation, or fear of deportation, or prohibited in discussing within the family or with strangers, and are consideredto bring shame and dishonour if presented.

Among all violence, burns are devastating.  Burns survivors require reconstructive surgery, occupational therapy and long treatment and rehabilitation plans including psychological support. Burn survivors groups have worked on improving reintegration into family and community. Considering the burn burden is gendered, the health, social and economic consequences for women who survive burn injuries are very serious, particularly for those living with scars and disfigurement.

The guidelines further state that a violated woman must be informed about her right to choose her future course of action and that she must be guided with regard to her legal rights under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.

To conclude, health researchers and various women’sgroup with burn victims raises several inquiries about the sequence of burn deaths as suicide, homicide and accident and the failure of the health system to recognize underlying violence. Considering the significant cost of burn care, prevention is the key which requires health systems to recognize the relationship between burn injuries and domestic violence. Therefore it is essential to conduct more awareness programs for domestic violence by trained health professionals and social organizations to identify signs and symptoms of violence. This would provide an early identification of abuse so that victims are able to access support services like anger management, couples counselling at an early stage in order to avoid such weird situations.

In such situations, we advise you to reach out to Women’s Helpline for immediate support.

Dial 1091 / 1090- All India women’s helpline number

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