‘Dowry deaths down, not number of victims of burn violence’

January 22, 2017 01:13 am | Updated 01:13 am IST - CHENNAI:

Dowry deaths have come down, but not the number of victims of burn violence, said experts at a U.K.-backed Tamil Nadu State policy roundtable, which aimed at building holistic support for women survivors of burn violence.

“Hospital data across Tamil Nadu shows that women are more affected by burns than men. There is also evidence of survivors or their families misrepresenting self-inflicted or homicidal burns as kitchen accidents,” said Prasanna Gettu, CEO, International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim Care (PCVC) while addressing the gathering at Park Hyatt on Saturday.

Ms. Prasanna added that every month around 150 women, victims of burn violence, come from across the State come to Kilpauk Medical College hospital, which the organisation also works with to provide psychosocial support to victims. “Medical practitioners develop a close rapport with survivors and have a clear understanding of family and incident history. But the medical records do not always reflect the violence involved,” she said.

K. Radhakrishnan, Director General of Police (Civil Supplies CID), spoke about the heavy toll that burn victims, especially acid attack survivors, face after coming out of the hospital. “When a girl’s face and body gets disfigured because of burn injuries the suffering and stigma she faces in society is unbelievable. It’s everyone’s duty to create consciousness,” he said.

Since the year 2012, as many as 300 burn violence survivors come and stay at the PCVC rehabilitation centre in Anna Nagar and 2000 have availed their services outside. The organisation is currently preparing a handbook on psychosocial needs for victims of burn violence. “The national burns programme of the Union government does not address their psychosocial needs, which is important,” said Ms. Prasanna.

Swetha Shankar, manager, psychosocial intervention, PCVC, pointed out that economic independence was also a major need for the victims.

Bharat Joshi, British Deputy High Commissioner Chennai, said, “I’m glad that PCVC is in touch with representatives from the National Programme for the Prevention of Burn Injuries (NPPBI) today. I know the Government of India has ambitious plans to improve burn-care infrastructure across India and several hospitals in Tamil Nadu have received approval for burn units in the Five Year Plan. This is good news,” he said.

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