Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Comment against another poorly written anti-male article

December 18, 2006
Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to an article, "Stove-burst deaths unusually
high, Gujarat cops say hands tied" by Sreenivas Janyala, published in
your newspaper on December 18, 2006
(http://indianexpress.com/story/18850.html). This article is
nonsensical and poorly researched. Domestic violence is a very serious
issue and requires great attention. When one assumes that domestic
violence must have occurred it does more harm than good because it
hurts innocent people.

The statement that "Women victims give declarations absolving in-laws,
husbands, prevent investigation for suicide or murder" is meaningless.
Why would a woman's dying declaration "prevent" investigation? If a
woman says that her family is not responsible for her death, that is
what she means. In cases where there is no dying declaration, there
should be a burst stove which can be examined to investigate the cause
of the accident.

The article shows pictures of three women as "three recent victims of
stove bursts". The caption also says, "Over 300 have died this year
alone". These three women have suffered stove bursts and they are
alive. The author of the article is talking about "dead women". Are
these three women examples of accidents? Or have these women testified
that their respective husbands and in-laws were responsible for the
stove bursts? What prevents investigation in their cases? Why has
nothing been said in the article about these three cases?

Next, the author makes another nonsensical assertion: "…most victims
are young and recently married, and invariably the police treat the
cases as accidents, based on dying declarations." There is a
difference between police "treating these cases as accidents" and
dying declarations "preventing investigation". Why would police treat
a case as anything other than an accident if the injured person said
it was an accident she caused? It is absurd for radical women's
organizations to insist that all stove bursts should be assumed

Take a look at numbers of stove bursts cited in the article: "in 2005,
343 women across the state died in kerosene stove explosions; this
year there have been 330 deaths so far." Gujarat has 2,10,41,937
females over the age of 7. There is approximately one stove burst per
1,00,000 females. We can expect that young women, who may not have
much experience using wick or kerosene stoves, will make more serious
mistakes. Again, radical women's advocates have not demonstrated
cause for assuming that every stove burst related death of a woman is
an act of domestic violence.

The author concedes that there is a preponderance of "wick stoves"
which are more likely to explode and adds that, "unusually, by police
figures, in 62 per cent of the cases, the stoves that burst are of
ISI-approved brands." An ISI rating cannot prevent careless misuse of
stoves. Nor can a BIS automobile approval prevent vehicle accidents.
Certainly, an stove accident rate of 1 per 1,00,000 women in Gujarat
does not suggest a level of domestic violence worthy of the wild
claims made by this article parroting the statements of radical

The author states that "Burns specialists and forensic experts — and
sometimes police officers — say they know most of these cases are
suicides, often in the face of harassment by husbands or in-laws, or
plain murders." Unless burn specialists or forensic experts are able
to interview corpses, it is impossible for them to find that a burn
was a suicide caused by harassment, or a murder. Police are in a
better position to ascertain facts at the scene of the event and
record them for appropriate handling. The public focus should be on
making sure that the police handle suicide investigations properly.
Assuming innocent husbands and in-laws to be criminals or falsely
incriminating them under stringent anti-dowry laws is senseless, and
is destroying families, and placing men, women, and children in
desperate situations that lead to substantially higher rates of

Gender-obsessed activists are unable to see that stove bursts happen
to males and females of all ages. Here are a few news items for

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2005/20050705/j&k.htm#5 - Father, son
killed as stove bursts
- A fire accident that badly disfigured a child's face also helped
bring into the world a skilled plastic surgeon.
http://www.tribuneindia.com/2002/20021130/ldh1.htm - Teenagers, woman
die in stove bursts
http://www.hindu.com/2006/06/09/stories/2006060915260400.htm - Couple
die of burns in stove burst
http://www.hindu.com/2004/02/19/stories/2004021913430300.htm - Four
sustain burns in stove burst
http://newstodaynet.com/25apr/ld5.htm - Succumbs to burn injuries (A
woman dies, husband and child suffer injuries)
- Stove-burst kills woman
http://www.telegraphindia.com/1040518/asp/calcutta/story_3260616.asp -
Stove burst death (woman in her mid-thirties dies)
http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/nov14/c2.asp - Stove burst
kills teenager
http://www.telegraphindia.com/1050331/asp/calcutta/story_4554978.asp -
Stove burst (14 yr old girl dies)

Mr. Janyala quotes anonymous police officers saying, "But
investigations are stone-walled by the dying declarations which,
police officers say, could have come under pressure or coercion, or
from the woman's unstated fears for her children's future and of
bringing her family a bad name." As stated earlier, it is preposterous
to assume that dying declarations could have come under pressure or
coercion, thus making a serious issue such as domestic violence into a
mere guessing game.

In addition, it has to be noted that, in India, the word of a woman
who is alive and dandy is taken for granted even if she is blatantly
lying and criminal cases are registered against innocent husbands and
in-laws. Why is it that a dying woman's declaration that her husband
and in-laws are innocent not taken to be the truth? Is it that, in
India, only a woman's statements against her own husband and in-laws
will be considered to be the truth? It is absurd that the author is
suggesting that a husband and his family are to be assumed guilty even
when all the evidence suggests otherwise. Is it that an Indian husband
and his relatives are punishable by law by default, and women, police
and judiciary have to diligently work towards that goal?

Mr. Janyala also quotes H.G. Patel, a former superintendent of police,
who investigated about two dozen cases. He does not say when Patel
investigated these two dozen cases. Did he investigate them 20 years
ago? Or did he investigate two dozen cases in his entire career? Are
the two dozen cases of Patel representative of the 300 plus stove
burst related female deaths per year in the state of Gujarat?

Here's another ridiculous assertion, by Dr. Raibagkar, the head of a
burns ward: "Even if the patient doesn't tell us, we know from the
depth and degree of burns, patterns, areas burnt, whether it is
accidental or suicidal." How can one look at burns and be sure to say
if they were "accidental or suicidal", especially if they are all over
the body and the victim is dead? Serious burns all over the body or
the depth of burns depends on the intensity of flames, what the person
was wearing (the garment and the material it is made of), what kind of
things the person was surrounded by and/or what the person did as a
reaction to the fire. Yes, the police should investigate cases but
they do not. Instead, they presume all men and their families to be
guilty (maybe because that is much easier than doing their job of
investigation), and arrest innocent individuals. These arrests and all
the cases of female burn victims are conveniently used as cases of
bride burning by radical feminists in India and abroad, to beef up
statistics of harassment and domestic violence against women, and, to
argue for the existence of horrendous laws that victimize thousands
of innocent men and their relatives.

Finally, the author gives an example of Raman Solanki, whose
daughter-in-law died of burns but made a declaration that her husband
and in-laws were not responsible for her suicide. The woman is said to
have stated that her husband "was having an extra-marital affair and
was harassing her". Nothing is mentioned about how he was harassing
her and what he was harassing her for. Nothing is said about what
section of IPC the husband was booked under. It also appears as though
in-laws can be booked under Indian criminal law just for knowing about
their son's affair. In fact, considering the rate at which false dowry
cases are increasing, it is evident that in-laws are deemed criminals
just for having given birth to a male child or just for sharing a

I am not sure what the purpose of this article is other than to raise
some sensation in the mind of a reader who has limited ability to
discern. It makes me wonder about the kind of training your
journalists are getting and what kind of social responsibility the
Indian newspapers fulfill in terms of doing some honest and
intelligent reporting. I expect that the editors of Indian Express are
a little more watchful of what kind of articles are being published
and that they maintain the dignity of the profession of journalism.

Thank you,
Uma Challa

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