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The social construction of 'dowry deaths'

Belur, J; Tilley, N; Daruwalla, N; Kumar, M; Tiwari, V; Osrin, D; (2014) The social construction of 'dowry deaths'. Social Science & Medicine , 119C 1 - 9. 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.07.044. Green open access

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Abstract

The classification of cause of death is real in its consequences: for the reputation of the deceased, for her family, for those who may be implicated, and for epidemiological and social research and policies and practices that may follow from it. The study reported here refers specifically to the processes involved in classifying deaths of women from burns in India. In particular, it examines the determination of 'dowry death', a class used in India, but not in other jurisdictions. Classification of death is situated within a framework of special legal provisions intended to protect vulnerable women from dowry-related violence and abuse. The findings are based on 33 case studies tracked in hospital in real time, and interviews with 14 physicians and 14 police officers with experience of dealing with burns cases. The formal class into which any given death is allocated is shown to result from motivated accounting processes representing the interests and resources available to the doctors, victims, victim families, the victim's husband and his family, and ultimately, the police. These processes may lead to biases in research and to injustice in the treatment of victims and alleged offenders. Suggestions are made for methods of ameliorating the risks.

Type: Article
Title: The social construction of 'dowry deaths'
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.07.044
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.07.044
Additional information: © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).
Keywords: Burns, Classification of death, Dowry death, India, Police, Post-mortem, Women victims
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Security and Crime Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1437737
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