(Warning: The photograph is this blog is very disturbing.)
Today sometime around afternoon, we had a patient with burns all over the face.
It was a bit unnerving as the burns was only limited to the face and just extending to the scalp. Not even a centimetre of burns anywhere else in the body.
Initially, I thought that it looked like an acid attack - I had seen photographs and few victims during my visit to Bangladesh. But, there were no marks of acid having flown down the body. Dr Nandamani noticed that she was smelling kerosene over the burnt area - but this was not a typical case of burns where the kerosene is poured on the head and the victim trying to set it on fire.
Then it dawned to me. There was only a chance for this sort of burn. She or somebody had forcefully dipped her head in a fire. The relatives who had brought her was not forthcoming. After consoling her - we found out the truth.
Her own words - 'My husband tried to burn me after pouring kerosene on me. I tried to run away. Then he caught me on my hair and dipped my face onto a vessel of boiling oil which was being heated up for cooking. Then he ran off'. The reason - She was upset with him for the way he was spending it and she had asked him for some money.
It is going to be long haul for her. However, the manner in which she got burnt is something unfathomable. The paradox was that later she described her husband as a good man without any vices. Maybe it was done in a rush of anger.
Domestic violence as a major aspect of public health needs to be further re-examined especially in the light of violent incidents such as these. Prevention of such incidents is possible if there is good family and community support.