Afghani women resorting to immolation in increased numbers

According to the New York Times, self-immolation is on the rise among women in Afghanistan:

It is shameful here to admit to troubles at home, and mental illness often goes undiagnosed or untreated…The choices for Afghan women are extraordinarily restricted: Their family is their fate. There is little chance for education, little choice about whom a woman marries, no choice at all about her role in her own house. Her primary job is to serve her husband’s family. Outside that world, she is an outcast.

Many of the women who are burning themselves are trying to escape violence inflicted on them by husbands and in-laws. Sometimes, the burnings themselves are even purported to be suicide attempts when they are actually homicidal acts by family members. Hospital staff report that these are the most gruesome and difficult cases to handle.

The only silver lining in these devastating situations is that the medical care that women receive often leads to social work interventions, by which they can potentially see a way out of the violent families they have become subject to. The physical wounds that are inflicted on them, or that they inflict on themselves, end up being undeniable, physical cries for help. It shouldn’t, of course, have to come to that, but in a society that is still so painfully misogynist, women are doing what they can to liberate themselves.

Read more about gender and justice in Afghanistan at Human Rights Watch.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted November 9, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    The honor killing, in particular, are devastatingly inhumane.

  2. Posted November 10, 2010 at 2:43 am | Permalink

    There is a kind of beautiful poetry to this idea of liberation by fire… until it is taken out of the metaphor and into reality. Then it is just devastating.

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