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BBC Persian (Translated by RAWA), March 8, 2009

In Afghanistan 8th March celebrated with self-immolation

Including this case, 81 such cases have been recorded in this province’s burn hospital this solar year.

At the threshold of International Women’s Day, Afghan officials give the news of self-immolation in eastern Afghanistan.

Burn Unit in Herat Regional Hospital
An Afghan woman swathed in bandages is attended by a doctor as she lies on a bed with burns over 65 percent of her body at The Herat Regional Hospital Burns Unit in Herat on July 31, 2008, after she tried to commit suicide by setting herself on fire. Afghan women are in a subordinate position in society, where conservative Islamic laws and traditions dictate what a woman is allowed to do in a male dominated world. Forced marriages, domestic violence, poverty and lack of access to education are said to be some of the main reasons for suicides. (Photo: AFP)

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According to the local officials of Herat province, a 45-year-old woman committed self-immolation due to ‘poverty and mental pressures’.

This incident took place two days before the celebration of International Women’s Day in the Oba district in Herat.

Including this case, 81 such cases have been recorded in this province’s burn hospital this solar year.

Muhammad Arif Jalali, the administrator of the burn hospital in Herat said, “59 people who were admitted for self-immolation have died. Only four of them were men and the others women.”

According to him, 80% of the victims were between the ages of 13 and 25.

According to experts; poverty, family problems, forced marriages, age differences between spouses and domestic violence result in women committing self-immolation.

Four months back, 20-year-old Anar Gul chose fire to end her life due to her family problems.

She said, “I had arguments with my husband for almost a week. Finally, I was very pressurized one night and threw benzene over myself and set myself on fire. Now it has been four months that I am in this burn hospital and my condition is getting better.”

Lack of law dominance

According to the administrators of the hospital, the figures on self-immolation in Herat do not differ much with the last year. But the figures of the city of Herat itself, has decreased by 15%; which at some time, from the year 2004 till 2006 (solar year 1383-1385) took 50% of the total figures on self immolation.

Karzai's speech [of March 8, 2009] came one day after a widow in western Afghanistan burned herself alive in what relatives called a desperate move to escape her miserably poor life.
Jan Bibi, 53, lived with family and made a little money washing clothes for neighbors, officials said. On Saturday, she walked into her room, poured gasoline over her body and set it on fire, according to Dad Mohammad, police chief of Obe district.
The family rushed her to a hospital where she died, Mohammad said.
The Washington Post, March 8, 2009

But the figures of self-immolation have not decreased in the surrounding districts of Herat city, and 60% of the admitted victims of the burn hospital belong to districts and villages.

Bismullah Bismil, the law adviser of the civic institution ‘Nidae Zan’ (Women’s Voice) states insecurity and lack of law dominance as the reasons for the increasing cases of self-immolation.

According to Mr. Bismil, women cannot get justice and therefore commit suicide and set themselves on fire and this is due to the long distance between the villages and the government offices that they cannot reach so there is no justice.

Herat is one of the cities with the highest cases of self-immolation but the local administrators believe that it is because they are officially recorded and at the hands of the media.

According to them, women commit self-immolation in other areas of Afghanistan but it is not officially recorded by any government offices nor does it get reflected in the media.

According to the experts, such cases would never end until the economical and cultural poverty, illiteracy and lack of law dominance are not erased.

Category: Women, RAWA News, Healthcare/Environment - Views: 15827