Self-Immolation: a Rampant Social Phenomenon Among Afghan Women

In: Social Issues

Submitted By turnerw3
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Self Immolation: A Rampant Social Phenomenon Among Afghan Women Self-immolation, which means to “deliberately set oneself on fire” (KhushKadamOva 75), is traditionally considered a rare and agonizingly painful method of suicide. Self-destruction of this nature most often occurs in young women living in Islamic countries like Iran, Tajikistan, Sri Lanka, India, and, more recently, Afghanistan, where the number of self-immolated female deaths has risen substantially since the first cases were documented in the mid-1990s (Raj, Gomez, and Silverman 2201). Unfortunately, this disturbing behavior seems to have developed into a horrific trend; according to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), there were 106 reported cases in 2006, and 184 in 2007 (KhushKadamOva 76). However, perhaps more concerning than the epidemic itself are the underlying, direct, and perpetuating causes for the phenomenon: the widespread practice of child marriage, the culture’s generally misogynistic and violent treatment of women, and the government’s tendency to ignore these issues. War in Afghanistan has seriously crippled the country’s social structure, and the resultant lack of human security has prompted many Afghan families to forcibly marry their underage daughters into others. On the other hand, some families push their young girls into matrimony in order to repay debts or settle familial disputes (“Life”), but even worse are the alarmingly frequent instances in which parents arrange for their children to be married so as to avoid the cost of caring for them. More than 50% of girls in Afghanistan are married or at least engaged by the age of 10 (“Life”). Data collected by the AIHRC in 2009 showed that somewhere between 60 and 80% of all marriages that take place in Afghanistan are forced child marriages, and, as such, is not uncommon for young Afghan girls to meet…...

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