PAN, April 17, 2011

Violence against women on the rise: AIHRC

As many as 69 women lost their lives to domestic violence and family feuds in 1389, compared to 64 such deaths in 1388

By Sultana Rahim

With violence against them increasing, 75 women committed self-immolation last year, Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said on Sunday.

A total of 2,765 cases of violence against women and girls were reported to the rights watchdog from different parts of the country, AIHRC official Latifa Sultani told Pajhwok Afghan News.

Najiba in hospital
Mariam weeps over her daughter, Najiba, 13. Najiba who had been married six months, claimed that her mother-in-law doused her with gasoline and set her on fire, through her mother, and other nurses in the hospital, were skeptical of her story, and suspected she might have burned herself in an attempted suicide. (Photo: Lynsey Addario / NYTimes)
More photos by Lynsey Addario ( )

The incidents included 144 self-immolation, 261 attempted suicide, 237 forced marriage, 538 beating and 45 murder cases. The self-immolation attempts left 75 dead and 20 others disabled. Twenty-two individuals recovered after treatment.

Of the rights violations reported to the commission, 2,269 pertained to violence, including 119 self-immolation, 23 suicide, 134 murder and 909 severe beating cases.

Additionally, females were subjected to kidnappings, widow sales, child marriages, forced marriages and sexual assaults in different parts of the country.

Dr. Arif Jalali, a doctor at the Herat Civil Hospital, said they received 90 women who committed self-immolation in the western zone. Fifty-one of them succumbed to their injuries.

In the solar year 1388, 85 women resorted to self-immolation in western Afghanistan. Fifty-nine of them lost their lives. Most of them were aged between 15 and 25 years.

Sociologists noted high self-immolation rates among women refugees who returned to Herat from Iran, where living conditions were much better.

On coming back to Afghanistan, their husbands fail to meet their expectations and respect their rights. As a consequence of frustration, they tend to end it all, the experts explain.

AIHRC Commissioner Nader Naderi viewed women's inadequate access to judicial organs as a major factor behind the increasing violence. "As long as relevant laws are not implemented, the scourge can't be eliminated."

Urging religious scholars to preach respect for women, he said, violence against females had pushed up the overall crime graph.

Fawzia Amini, in charge of human rights department at the Ministry of Women's Affairs, says they registered 6,765 cases of violence against women and girls across the country. During the previous year, such cases stood at 6,692.

Subjected to forced marriages and deprived of their rights, many women seek refuge in suicide, escape from home and divorce, she says, confirming that girls are banned from going to school and university.

As many as 69 women lost their lives to domestic violence and family feuds in 1389, compared to 64 such deaths in 1388.

But acting Minister of Women's Affairs Husn Bano Ghazanfar believes the violence against women has not risen. In fact, women have gained greater awareness of their rights and are increasingly reporting their cases to the ministry, she says.

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