Thursday, March 19, 2009

Afghan women taking desparate measures

A gruesome story in the BBC today really shows the plight of women in Afghanistan. The story describes women burning themselves or self-immolation to escape their lives.

Even though the nations constitution makes equal rights a priority, it doesn't match the reality in the lives of the countries women. Many women are in poverty, illiterate or are victims of domestic abuse. A large number of the women who burn themselves are ones who are about to be married. Many take to burning because they dont see a way out or any way to improve their lives.

From the BBC, Martin Patience looks at the work of a burn center practitioner, Dr Mohammed Jalili.

At the hospital, Dr Jalili was treating two women. He had operated on 20-year-old Anargol three times, including a skin graft operation on her badly scarred neck.

Anargol says she had committed self-immolation after arguing with her husband.

When asked whether she had a message for other women, she had a shocking response.

"Don't burn yourself," she said, lying on her hospital bed. "If you want a way out, use a gun: it's less painful."

It was an absolute cry of despair, and something rarely heard from women in this deeply conservative society.

But according to Soraya Balaigh, director of the provincial department for women's affairs, it is an emotion that many women relate to.

"Pressure is often put on these women by their husbands or the mothers-in-law," she says.

"Violence is common and many women are desperate. I had a woman in this office who begged me to kill her here rather than send her back."

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