KATHMANDU: A 28-year old girl‚ who refused to reveal her identity‚ recalls an incident of burn violence that her husband meted out to her 12 years ago.
Her husband had tried to kill her by pouring kerosene on her body when she was 16 and six months pregnant.
“I was not aware of my husband’s addiction to drugs until our marriage. On that fateful day‚ I had disposed of his drugs after finding them in our room. After that‚ he got violent and start beating me which resulted in miscarriage. Later‚ he dragged me to the kitchen‚ poured kerosene over my body and set me on fire.”
He sprayed some kerosene on his body to show he had been injured while trying to rescue her‚ she said.
In another incident‚ Gudiya Loniya‚ 19‚ who was forced to marry at the age of 14 was alleged of practising witchcraft.
Shortly after her marriage‚ when her husband’s family lost a buffalo and she could not conceive a child‚ she was branded a witch. Her sister-in-law tried to burn her with a burning log.
Her in-laws‚ however‚ did not take her to the hospital until neighbours intervened and threatened to take action against them.
With inadequate facilities to treat burns patients at the local hospital‚ she was referred to the Burns Violence Survivors-Nepal (BVSN)‚ a partner organisation of the umbrella organisation‚ Acid Survivors Trust International.
Till date‚ perpetrators of both the cases have been moving freely and the survivors‚ abandoned by their families‚ have been struggling to get justice.
According to UN Women‚ Nepal and many other countries lack nationwide statistics regarding the prevalence of violence against women or systematic data on acid and burns violence.
However‚ a recent study‚ which Nepal’s Department of Health Services conducted‚ showed that suicide is the leading cause of death among women aged 15 to 49 in the country and that 50 per cent of the suicide cases follow burn violence. Doctors say acid and burns violence has a devastating effect on the human body. It causes severe physical‚ psychological and social scarring. Victims are often left with no legal recourse‚ limited access to medical or psychological assistance‚ and condemned to social ostracism.
There is a dire need of separate act for burn violence to take stern action against the culprits and rehabilitate the survivors‚ said Mohana Ansari‚ spokesperson‚ National Women’s Commission. According to Bir Hospital’s Burn Unit‚ there were 144 burn cases in 2010.