The team here at Maternova never shies away from tackling the controversial and heavy handed news. We devote a good part of each day scouring the web and talking to caregivers – in order to get the skinny on what’s really going on in the world. Sometimes we’re met with unexpected joy, but more often it’s a mix of horror and shock.
So began the exchange between Meg, fearless CEO, and myself last night. Meg sent me a Huff Post story about a woman in India, brutally killed by her husband. I usually brace myself for the reason behind each atrocity, expecting it to be a crime of culture based on religion, adultery, economics, or pure passion. What we found as explanation boggles the mind; a man justified killing his pregnant wife for cutting his nails too short and nicking the skin.
(I’ll give you a minute for you all to pause and look at your fingernails, I know you are…)
There has to be more to the story, right? A hangnail hardly seems appropriate provocation for homicide. It’s not only the crime it’s the manner in which it was executed. This woman was burned alive for what equates to a bad manicure. I’ve gotten some lackluster manis in my day and not only thanked them, but tipped them too.
The burning question is WHY the burning? So I dug, and unearthed one of the most unbelievable cultural practices still in existence. It’s called ‘Bride Burning’ or ‘Dowry Death’. In India last year, over 8,000 women were quite literally restrained and set aflame by the man they were set to marry.
Over 8,000 women were executed using a barbaric form of torture. In reviewing what actually happens to a person who is caught in or set on fire, it’s a form of cruelty beyond justification of any kind. Not only is it a slow death, it’s excruciatingly painful, provided your nerves are burned quickly and you succumb to the fumes which can be considered the lucky way out.
Blogs and online forums are quick to defend this practice. (I’m not kidding!) Saying “Bride burning and dowry may look bad, but are an integral part of India.” It may look bad? I personally issue a challenge to anyone who can provide even a matchstick of evidence that it is not bad and inherently evil.
These murders have to stop. Women are not expendable, nor are they bargaining chips or destined to live in servitude. We hope the call goes out loud and clear to rise up against this cruelty and oppression. We hope you’ll read and learn more about this practice. It is one whose time to be stamped out has arrived.
p.s. note this unbelievable (and disturbing) video by one of our favorite photographers on the related issue of suicide by burning, Lynsey Addario