"she was humiliated and victimised by her husband's family who often mocked her over her dark skin tone,"
A 28-year-old Mumbai-based housewife has been arrested after being suspected of intentionally poisoning the food served at a welcome party after years of being taunted for her dark skin.
The arrest took place in the Raigad district of Maharashtra on the 22nd of June, 2018.
Allegedly, the woman prepared the food and laced it with pesticides. The food was being prepared for a housewarming party which was being thrown by a relative.
It is thought that she committed the crime after enduring years of mental abuse from her husband’s family members regarding her dark skin and cooking skills which were constantly criticised.
Five people have since died as a result of the incident, including four children. The children were aged between seven and thirteen years old, whilst a 53-year-old man has also died. Among the dead, two were the woman’s relatives.
Raigad Superintendent of Police, Anil Paraskar, told the Mumbai Mirror that Subhash Mane had organised a house-warming party at Mahad village in Khalapur.
Paraskar added that after having dinner at the party, some of the guests began to feel uneasy. Other guests even started to vomit.
Another official continued saying over 50 people eventually arrived at the hospital from the party with the same complaint. Some of the guests even arrived unconscious.
The names and ages of three of the four children that have died include Kalyani Shingude, aged 7, Rishikesh Shinde, aged 12, and Pragati Shinde, aged 13. They were all declared dead before they could be admitted to a hospital, the police official said.
As the numbers of guests feeling unwell drastically rose, they were sent to various hospitals for treatment. This included hospitals in Raigad, Navi Mumbai and Mumbai. In total, 11 hospitals were used to treat the guests.
Before officials were aware of the woman’s actions, an official revealed that the food from the party would be tested. They said:
“We have registered a case and will send the samples of the food served at the dinner to a forensic science laboratory and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for analysis.”
It was later revealed that pesticides were used by the housewife in the food that the guests consumed. This ultimately led to the death of five people, as well as the hospitalisation of over 50 of the guests.
The senior police official, Sanjay Patil, explained the woman’s reasons for committing the crime. Patil explained:
“The woman was married two years ago [and] said she was humiliated and victimised by her husband’s family who often mocked her over her dark skin tone and lack of cooking skills.”
He added that the woman admitted her crimes and cited pesticides as the poison that she chose to use. He said:
“She admitted to the crime citing marital, family disputes. She held a grudge against them and she had an intention to kill her in-laws and other relatives by mixing pesticide in the food.”
The senior officer added that the woman has been booked for murder and will be seen in court shortly.
There are frequent reports of women in India being ill-treated when it comes to their skin colour, especially those with darker skin tones. Claims of physical as well as mental abuse are not rare for these women.
In India, many people hold the perception that being light-skinned is much better than being dark skinned. Whilst light skin is deemed beautiful, dark skin is often aligned with poverty and classes.
As a result, the selling and purchasing of skin-lightening creams are on the rise in countries where this perception is widely held. They are among the highest-selling cosmetic products in the country.