Afghanistan: Women Turning to Suicide in Greater Numbers to Escape Domestic Violence

15 January 2010

 

According to an article in The Globe and Mail, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Department recently published a human rights report that stated an increase in Afghanistan’s women’s suicide rate. The increase is considered to be the result of women choosing suicide over daily violence, which has continued in Afghanistan despite recent awareness of domestic violence issues. 

 

Circumstances are dire for many women in Afghanistan, and options for escape are limited. A recent law legalized rape within marriage, and a Foreign Affairs report cited in The Globe and Mail article asserted that sixty percent of Afghani marriages are forced , with fifty-seven percent of marriages involving girls who are fifteen years of age and under. Simultaneously, high-profile rape cases showed unsettling, contradictory outcomes. Furthermore, while rapes take place frequently, great stigmatization burdens women who have been raped. In some situations, such stigmatization leads to the practice of "honor killings."

 

Some Afghan women seek safety from domestic violence in women’s shelters, though only nineteen exist in Afghanistan. Other women seek shelter in prisons. While the Afghan government developed a female police force to investigate domestic violence, the officers must wait for victims to report crimes, which, as mentioned above, may provoke harsh consequences for the victims.

 

Thus, increased numbers of women are attempting and committing suicide in Afghanistan. The director of a burn unit in Herat declared that over eighty women set themselves on fire in attempts to kill themselves in 2008. Many of these women were in their early twenties.             

 

Compiled from: Murray Brewster, Afghan women turn to suicide in greater numbers: report, theglobeandmail.com (06 January 2010).