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article image100,000 Indian women endure death by fire, many tied to abuse

By Chris V. Thangham     Mar 2, 2009 in Crime
An article published in the British medical journal "The Lancet" says more than 100,000 young Indian women were killed in fires in a single year and many of the deaths were tied to domestic abuse.

This is a video of a dowry case show how it impacts women and their children.
U.S.-based researchers analyzed death registration data in India and checked official questionnaires in rural areas and census figures. They found there were 163,000 fire-related deaths in 2001, 2 per cent of all reported deaths. Among these people, more than 106,000 were women (65 per cent).
The victims were mostly in the 15 to 34 age group. The authors of this report found the fire-deaths are due to accidents, self-immolation and domestic abuse.
Female activists believe most of these deaths are because of domestic abuse. Often, women are killed in disputes over dowries, when the male-side of the family demands more money or gifts than previously agreed upon. The cases often end up with the bridegroom family dousing her with gasoline and setting her ablaze. When police question them, many families report the fire as a kitchen accident. Only a selected number of cases are investigated further by the police.
Indira Jaising, director of the Women’s Rights Initiative of the Lawyers Collective in New Delhi, is upset the government is not doing enough to stop these dowry deaths.
Jaising told AP:
"They say that it's a crime and it's shameful, but it's not enough to say that...They have not been able to do anything to stop it from happening."
Jaising wants authorities to be more active in dowry disputes and domestic abuse cases.
Jaising added:
"Once the death takes place they are willing to investigate but by then it's too late. When women go to them with complaints when they're alive, those complaints should be taken seriously."
Officials at the Ministry of Women and Child Development did not respond to requests for comment.
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