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Local Cultural Context and DSH/Suicide

There were a number of other issues which were seen as risk factors for DSH and suicide not only in the Sundarbans Region but in many LMICs. These issues include Jhukimara, erectile dysfunction/impotency, infertility and recurrent birth of a female child.


A deliberate attempt to die, without definite desire, is locally known as Jukhimara or simply Jukhi. The literal meaning of the term is ‘taking risk’ (of life). In most cases the person either wants to communicate his/her sufferings as an alarm or wants to achieve something (social punishment to inlaws, diminution of parental pressure for studies etc.). Persons indulging in Jukhimara are often ridiculed in the community. Sometimes Jhuki turns fatal, primarily due to the ignorance of the lethality and amount of the pesticide consumed.

Erectile Dysfunction/Impotency

This phenomenon is noticed especially among newly married couples, when the wife complains that her husband has ‘defect’ (sexual impotency). The usual custom is that the GP accepts the complaint and amicably resolves the issue without taking into consideration any medico-legal opinion. Usually the husband’s family is instructed to pay back at least half of the dowry and the girl is declared fit for another marriage. However, many girls have misused this situation as the Panchayat is most likely to be empathetic to the woman. To make matters worse, the local women’s activist group ‘Mahila Samity’ takes every measure to ‘save’ the ‘female victims’ and very often victimise the men.

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