Page last updated at 18:56 GMT, Monday, 2 March 2009

More women die in fires in India

A funeral pyre in India
Young women are more likely to suffer a fire-related death, research suggests

Young women in India are three times as likely to suffer a fire-related death as young men, according to a new study.

The study, published in the Lancet medical journal, looked at death statistics in India for the year 2001.

Of an estimated 163,000 fire-related deaths, two-thirds of the victims were females, mostly aged between 15 and 34.

These deaths are attributed to kitchen accidents, self-immolation and different forms of domestic violence, such as dowry disputes.

The study, conducted by Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University and independent researchers, looked at hospital records, death registries and verbal autopsy reports to find their results.

By combining several health data sets, the authors found that in 2001 there were 106,000 fire-related deaths among Indian women, mostly between 15 and 34 years of age - a number six times higher than the police recorded.

In all their research, there were "alarming" spikes in deaths by fire in the 15 to 34 age group of females in India, the authors said.

This could be attributed in part to "sudden exposure to the cooking environment", though some believe that many homicides are covered up as accidents and are considered a cultural norm, so the police do little to investigate or intervene.

The relative youth of the demographic most affected also corresponds with the age distribution of fertility. In addition, domestic violence is not unheard of in India.

Dowry deaths, in which a woman is doused with kerosene and then set on fire, are sometimes perpetrated by the family of the husband if the bride's dowry does not meet expectations.

The Hindu practice of sati, the act of a widow's suicide by jumping on to her husband's funeral pyre, is illegal in India.

The study concluded that better research into fire-related deaths could produce policy measures that would prevent unintentional as well as intentional fire-related deaths among Indian women.

Print Sponsor

Visitors flock to 'sati' village
23 Aug 06 |  South Asia
India cuts aid to 'sati' village
19 Aug 02 |  South Asia
Outrage over India ritual burning
08 Aug 02 |  South Asia
India's neglected widows
02 Feb 02 |  South Asia

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific