Taliban Restrictions Drive Women To Suicide

In addition to the thousands of adversities experienced by Afghans, the crushing atrocities committed by the Taliban have turned Afghanistan into a living hell for women. The ongoing catastrophe of women's human rights violations and the brutal civil war have drafted great masses of women into beggary and prostitution. The intolerable conditions which exist for women have resulted in increased suicides in the form of self-immolation all across the country, but especially in western Afghanistan.

Laida Omid RAWA has prepared reports on some of the self-immolations committed by Afghan women and girls. These include the story of 20-year-old Laida Omid, daughter of Hidar Karim, who was a well-educated and talented girl. On 24 April 2000, she burned herself with petrol as a way out of all her miseries that had twisted her for years. She was at her home located in Dr. Abdul Rizzaq road, near the Mehria High School in Herat. Her family took her to the hospital in Herat, but the facility was lacking a physician and proper medical equipment. She was then taken to Iran, but it was too late to save Laila from her self-inflicted burns.

One of Laida Omid's many poems, "Throne Race, Stop It," is a sample of her deep hatred of the fundamentalists destroying her country, her people and her spirit.

      Throne Race, Stop It
      by Laida Omid, 18 April 1994

      Stare at the sky,
      Shed bitter tears

      Wandering children
      Bereaved mothers
      Beggars everywhere
      Endless winter
      Orphaned boys

      oh enemy

      How long
      Will you suck blood?
      were afflicted,
      My Kabul
      Was turned into ruins
      By your dirty hands.

      How long
      Are you going to destroy it?
      Your heads
      Clasped with the hanging grip
      The enemy of the country

      Pen is my sword,
      Even if you take my life
      Hear my cry
      That is cursing you.
      Foreign stooges!

      How long
      Are you going to slaughter?
      In the mountains
      People were banished
      You sold off your soil
      And killed thousands of people
      Curse on you!

      With our blood
      We ask for our land.

On the same day, another Afghan woman, the bride of headmaster Noor Ahmed, burned herself by slashing petrol on her body at the Wool Company Street in Herat. The young bride's life was saved by her family, but she remains badly burned. It is a reminder of the horrors which led her to self-immolation.

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