Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Suicide by Self Burning
The New England Journal of Medicine reported on the tragic plight of women in Afghanistan that causes women to burn themselves as a means of suicide. The United Nations Development Fund for Women reports that 70-80% of female Afghanis are forced into marriages and more than half are married before they are 16 years of age. Women have an 84% illiteracy rate and average 7.5 births per mother. Only 14% of those childbirths have a skilled attendant present and the country's maternal mortality is 2nd in the world.
Afghan women are forced into early marriage to settle conflict between families or tribes and it is routine that these women suffer abuse from their husbands and in-laws. There is no recourse for women who are abused by their husbands and suicide, by pouring gasoline over themselves and lighting a match, is an act of desperation. According to the authors, "women and girls see this horrifying act as a means of both escaping from intolerable conditions and speaking out against abuse, since their actual voices do not bring about changes that would allow them to lead safe and secure lives."
The number of women who committed suicide by lighting themselves on fire more than doubled between 2005 - 2006 in Afghanistan.
I am trying to imagine a life like these women live. I will be thinking of it tomorrow as I drink my latte and get my son off to school in the morning. I will be thinking of it when I pick roses or run to the grocery store to pick up a forgotten item. I will think about it when I get a manicure or drop of clothes at the dry cleaner.
I urge anyone who cares about women to click on Women for Women International. A contribution will go a long way toward helping disadvantaged women in war torn countries. When women are strong and healthy, the society is strong and healthy.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 10:51 PM