UCL Grand Challenges
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Burns as a Result of Violence against Women: Where crime science meets global health
GCGH Theme: Vulnerable Populations
Lead: Dr Jyoti Belur (UCL Security & Crime Science)
Main collaborator: Dr David Osrin (UCL Centre for International Health & Development)
Additional collaborator: Dr Nayreen Daruwalla, Director, Prevention of Violence against Women and Children, Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action, Mumbai, India
Project: Death by burning may result from accident, homicide or suicide. In India, available data indicate that females die of burns at much higher rates than males. Such deaths are often suspected to be non-accidental consequences of economic abuse, dowry-related deaths being a well-known example. We are currently auditing admissions to a Mumbai burns unit. Of 60 women, over a third had non-accidental burns (mostly inflicted by spouses). Only three have decided to file First Information Reports with the police.
Our pilot project will address two questions. How do fire-related deaths of women in India come to be classified as accidents, homicides or suicides? And, can new knowledge about circumstance provide evidence for initiatives to reduce fire-related deaths through changes in the opportunity structure?
The notions that opportunity is a cause of crime, and that changes in opportunity (as opposed to disposition) can produce changes in levels of crime are tenets of situational crime prevention. Our pilot study will uncover the opportunities and precursor indicators of violence in burns-related cases in two cities, Mumbai and New Delhi. In addition, we will examine the roles of the medical profession and the police in the process of classification of cause of death.
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