D. Pushpa who has been undergoing immense suffering since the fire accident.
Hyderabad: Pushpa met with an accident in her kitchen just after she passed her 10th Standard. The pain she went through all these years was less bearable than what she experienced the moment she saw her face for the first time in the mirror after her first surgery. While there are surgeries for her skin burns, there is no surgery for the mental trauma she has been experiencing since that day.
The 34-year-old D Pushpa, who hails from Ghatkesar, got burnt in a stove burst in 1997. This mishap completely chang-ed her life. She missed what should have otherwise been the most interesting time of her life, ever since the accident. Due to her family’s poor financial condition, she could not continue her studies further and could not get married. For some years, Pushpa was dependent on her family. She could work only after she recovered from the burns. A few surgeries had been conducted at Gandhi Hospital. Says she, ‘’I have gone through 10 surgeries in the past 20 years. I had lost my ears. I need a few more surgeries to get my ears back. Each ear will cost me a lakh.’’
"The mishap made my life a hell, but I have learnt to live with it. Since the past few months, my brother started harassing me, as he thinks I am expecting a part of my father’s properties. It was an accident but my brother is trying to make it a suicide bid." "With lots of difficulty I have started working as a tailor to survive and feed my old parents. I expect some ancestral property for my financial security as I have to lead a single life and feed myself," says she. The mortality rate among women in burn wards is more than that of men. The degree and severity of burns in women are much more than that of men.
A majority of the cases are getting registered as accidents in police records though doctors are aware some are of suicide attempts and some are homicidal. According to Gandhi Hospital, there were around 11,000 burns cases in the past 10 years. In these cases, some 60 to 70 per cent were women victims. Most of these cases were of domestic violence or dowry cases.
Mohan Krishna, chief plastic surgeon in Gandhi Hospital, said most of the cases doctors dealt with were of women and of domestic violence and dowry harassment. ‘’I dealt with cases of around 11,00 burns victims in the past 10 years. Most of the cases go unregistered due to family pressure and other reasons. Most district and area hospitals are not equipped to handle burns. So there is a need for having plastic surgeons in districts and remote areas as well. Most such survivors miss the first six hours of treatment just in transit to Hyderabad.’’
In 2009, 28-year-old A Nikita from Hyderabad got into an arranged marriage. Within a few months of her marriage, her husband started harassing her mentally and physically, due to which she attempted suicide by pouring kerosene on her and lighting herself. She suffered 50 per cent burns in her upper body. Due to family pressures, she did not register a domestic violence case against her husband. She regrets it now.
She says, ‘’I was not aware of things at that age. I was only 20 years old when I got married. Now I regret I did not make a complaint to the police against my husband. Now I am working as patient counsellor for plastic and cosmetic surgeries. I am also working on creating more awareness among women regarding burn issues. I don’t want to get married again after such a horrible experience, and I hope it does not happen to any other woman again."