Saturday, June 28, 2008
Hands with heeling power. Burns. Abuse. Suicide. Homicide. Women. Misconceptions. Bottle lamps
What we see in the picture above is straight forward. Hands with heeling power put a valiant effort to restore a burnt hand to normality. But related stories are not all that straight forward. They are extremely complex. They are no longer the challenges of modern medicine only. They have become challenges to civilized social and legal systems especially in the prevention and rehabilitation of victims. The Burns Unit of the Colombo National Hospital plays a unique role in this regard. The Unit, which is the only burns unit for the island, receives a number of referrals from all over. The causes of burns, according to the specialized medical professionals, vary : accidents, abuse, suicide, homicide etc. Modern and analytical approaches reveal that there are a number of misconceptions in reasoning burns. The general public, both rural and urban, attributes it chiefly to reasons such as domestic accidents caused by bottle lamps. Medical professionals specialized in burns think otherwise. A phenomenal percentage of women victims, medical specialists believe, have been subject to domestic violence and abuse. A considerable number of them are survivors of suicide attempts as well - suicide, in most cases, as a way of getting out of abuse. Victims, however, are hesitant to reveal the truth due to socio-legal reasons. On the other hand, misconceptions help continue the cycle of violence, which at the end, results in more burn victims. It further obstructs the attempts of empowering women who are subjected to violence, to escape from it. The time has come to look into these issues in the medical-socio-legal context rather than doing it in isolation, and more advocacy is needed for its prevention.