At 2am, ward boy knocked the doctor’s room door…..
“Sir new patient” he shouted from outside.
I got up and opened the door. He further informed “burn patient”
“Ok I’m coming” I told after opening the door.
It was really the coldest night of the season. Everybody was wearing either shawl or sweater. At the peak of coldness, I was very lazy, but still I had to do attend that patient.
I rushed to emergency room, the patient was young female, on asking details, she was KUSUM A NEWLY MARRIED BURN PATIENT. Burnt from top to bottom, asking for water. She was so thirsty that she could drink whole the river. Screaming in agony.
Those who were accompanying her told that after sunset, they found her naked on the front step of her house where she was living with her husband and in-laws on the outskirts of the city.
She was burnt more than 80 per cent of her body. The only places not burned were the inside of her arms, her ankle, some part on her belly and the area around her eyes. However, her scream was more horrible than her charred body. Wrapped in blankets and burnt saree, one could hardly see normal skin. Kerosene smell was making its presence felt.
On inquiring, persons which were accompanying her were her neighbours. They were looking puzzled.
When I examined her, she was cold like a dead body, pulse was barely palpable.
I was not getting any vein as If all her blood was dried up. Limbs were swollen. I did emergency venous cutdown (emergency proceduere where skin is cut and cannula is put in the vein under vision). My aim was to give her fluid so that she should not dry up. She was in agony, nursing staff was active enough to give her necessary injections and pain relieving medications which I advised.
With initial medications we somehow managed to give her some relief with saline administration in jet.
By this time, her parents came to the hospital, I was standing beside her doing necessary management. Her mother entered yelling. She was crying like anything “maine kaha tha myke aa ja lekin wo nahi mani”
I didnot tell her anything I was just watching this worst part of her emotions. Father who was standing behind wasnot saying a single word but his eyes were expressing all his emotions. Continuously flowing tears were making his emaciated face more worried. Mother was shouting continuously “wo log insan nahi hai, bhagwan unko saza de kr hi rahega”
Her father came to me and asked “meri beti ko bacha lo”
I had no words but I had to tell him something I told “Hum bachane ki poori koshish kar rahe hai lekin….”
I was looking at his face and i dont know why it was very difficult for me to utter these words. But i continued after a pause “…Lekin bachne ki ummid bahot kam hai”
He told with his dried tongue “docto sahab koi bhi dawa do chahe kitni bhi mehangi ho mai laane ke liye tayyar hu”.
I was looking at his poor face i knew he would sell himself but will arrange something to buy that medicine but it was unfortunate that nowhere in my medical books i read any medicine which could save his daughter.
Her father showed me her wedding picture, she was a cute village girl, wearing red saree with bridal makeup. But now she was a charred body, hardly one can see her facial features.
I asked him how this has happened??
He told “my daughter got married last year. It was the mightiest wedding cermony in his village. For initial few months everything was perfect, then her in laws started pressuring her for dowry.
They started asking for cash, gold to start new business. They told the money which i gave at the time of wedding was not sufficient though i gave what was decided earlier.
Gradually demands for money turned to threats of violence, they started beating her often and now see what they have done this time”. He started crying like a kid.
I was not brave enough to stay there and see the worst side of our society. I left the place.
I knew she has very less chance of survival and even if she survives its going to be a roller coaster ride for all.
About 2hours later she took her last breath infront of me, and i was standing helplessly witnessing another dowry death.
This story doesnot end here, it is the same repeated story you can find in any government hospital of India. Statistics say one woman die of dowry death every hour in India, more than 8000 women a year according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
You might think this only affects poor, uneducated people but higher socio-economic strata is equally involved in such practices. Even the highly educated class of our society do not say no to dowry. It runs deep into our social system and most of the time dowry deaths are not reported.
Though dowry is not a new word for Indian but if we define it ‘Dowry is the sum of all the money as well as other items such as jewellery, car, furniture, and house, etc., given by the bride’s family to the groom and his family.’
But greed is limitless, which many a time leads to either suicide in some cases or murder in some.
Though feminist groups are active in increase awareness regarding the problem of dowry, dowry harassment and dowry deaths. They devise strategies.
Government is also making efforts to stop this worst custom of dowry.
The Section 304-B, IPC deals with the Dowry Prohibition Amendment Act. Apart from this Act, we also have Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
Despite all these getting dowry death cases are the usual phenomenon. Its a social evil which should be stopped.
Here are some of my suggestions and solutions to tackle the situation.
1. Awareness: The prime solution to the problem of dowry deaths is awareness. Women should be taught about her legal rights and this can be achieved by setting up some awareness programmes in different sections of the society.
2. Education: alternative approach to increase awareness by educating people about such issues and imbibing such social issues into the curriculum of primary education.
3. Strict punishments and speedy trials of the cases: heavy punishment to the people convicted of crime related to dowry can also help to creat deterrent effects. In addition speedy trials will surely help the victims.
4. Enforcement Mechanisms to be strengthened:
Though we have many laws against it but still the problem of dowry demand continues, now it is the time to strengthen the enforcement of these legislations.
5. Intellectual people should play an active part. So many blogs/articles or even books can be written on this topic but now enough is enough. All of us especially young people should take initiative. We can start campaign with the use of social media. Take positive steps to “STOP DOWRY DEATHS”.