PAN (Translated by RAWA), January 10, 2010

A Newly-Married Bride Dies of Self-Immolation in Afghanistan

According to Dr. Jalali, from the start of this (solar) year 76 cases of self-immolation had been brought to the hospital, out of which 47 had died

By Ahmad Qureshi

Self-burn in Herat
The Canadian Press (Jan. 7, 2010): More Afghan women are choosing suicide to escape the violence and brutality of their daily lives, says a new human-rights report prepared by Canada's Foreign Affairs Department. The director of a burn unit at a hospital in the relatively peaceful province of Herat reported that in 2008 more than 80 women tried to kill themselves by setting themselves on fire, many of them in their early 20s. (More Photos ( ))

With the death of this newly-married bride the number of dead girls and women in this area of the western region has reached 47 this year.

The doctors in the regional hospital of Herat say that this woman was called Halima and had died in the hospital two nights back.

Dr. Mohammad Arif Jalali, director of the regional burn hospital of Herat told PAN that 15-year old Halima, resident of the Qadis District of Badghis Province, had married three months back.

He added that according to the information given by Halima’s family, she had committed self-immolation because of disputes with her mother-in-law and the violence she faced from her husband’s family.

According to Dr. Jalali, from the start of this (solar) year 76 cases of self-immolation had been brought to the hospital, out of which 47 had died. He said that 7 girls and women who had burned themselves had been brought to the hospital but due to their families’ requests had been discharged.

The mentioned said that two women had been taken out of the country for treatment and five inside the country, but their burns had been very severe and their chances of survival seemed very less. If they are counted as dead as well, the number of deaths in the hospital would reach 54. According to Dr. Jalali except for two women who had been burned by others, all the women had committed self-immolation.

Stating the causes of self-immolation as domestic violence and forced marriages; he added that 60% of the cases of self-immolation are from the districts of Heart; 15% from the city of Herat and 25% from the provinces of Badghis, Ghor, Farah, Nimroz and Helmand. He further stated that in the same period last year 66 cases of self-immolation had been recorded in the hospital and 70% of these had died.

12-year old Latifa, a resident of the Kamar Kalagh village of Anjeel District of Herat said, “I was under a lot of pressure at home. I was forced to pour petrol on myself and burn myself.” She didn’t describe the pressures or her problems at home but said she regrets what she did.

Suraya Daqiq, the person in charge of the development of women’s rights in the Human Rights Commission of Herat said the reasons for self-immolation among women and girls are forced and under-aged marriages, poverty and illiteracy, backward traditions and lack of justice.

She said the number of cases of self-immolation among women in Herat had decreased a great deal in the past seven years due to more awareness among them, but still Herat has a high number of cases as compared to neighboring provinces.

Criticizing the enforcement and judicial organizations, Daqiq said that although the law of abolishment of violence against women had been passed four months back but it has not been implemented as yet and people involved in self-immolation are pardoned.

Some experts in Herat say the cause of so much self-immolation is also influence from Iran where this phenomenon is very common. Afghan refugees returning from Iran and living in the bad conditions of the country are forced to burn themselves. Besides that poverty, illiteracy, lack of awareness and domestic violence are the other causes.

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