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Vocapedia > Women > Violence against women worldwide > Afghanistan - Graphic

 

 

 

Afghan women walk outside a house

near the DHQ (Char Dara District Police Headquarters)

in the province of Kunduz, March 29, 2012.

 

Photograph:

Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

 

Boston Globe > Big Picture

Afghanistan, March 2012        April 13, 2012

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2012/04/afghanistan_march_2012.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faheema, 21,

wept in a temporary holding area

at the Women for Afghan Women shelter in Kabul

after a confrontational mediation session with her family.

 

Photograph:

Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

 

A Thin Line of Defense Against Honor Killings

Women’s shelters are one of the most provocative legacies

of the Western presence in Afghanistan.

NYT

MARCH 2, 2015

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/03/world/asia/afghanistan-
a-thin-line-of-defense-against-honor-killings.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gul Meena, 16,

survived a brutal attack by her brother

after she fled an older husband,

who had beaten her,

and ran away with another man.

 

Photograph:

Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

 

A Thin Line of Defense Against Honor Killings

Women’s shelters are one of the most provocative legacies

of the Western presence in Afghanistan.

NYT

MARCH 2, 2015

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/03/world/asia/afghanistan-
a-thin-line-of-defense-against-honor-killings.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Breadwinner Trailer #1        Movieclips Indie        2017

 

 

 

 

The Breadwinner Trailer #1 (2017)        Video        Movieclips Indie        27 October 2017

The Breadwinner Trailer #1 (2017):

Check out the new trailer

starring Saara Chaudry, Laara Sadiq, Shaista Latif!

YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/
watch?v=p64O8KAHHaQ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Kill a Sparrow    NYT    Oct. 19, 2014

 

   

 

To Kill a Sparrow        BY CIR        NYT | Oct. 19, 2014 | 26:20

 

In Afghanistan,

thousands of young women

have been imprisoned

for so-called moral crimes

— including running away

from unlawful forced marriages.

 

This is one woman’s story.

 

Related:

Article: Bartered Away at Age 5,

Now Trying to Escape to a Life She Chooses

http://www.nytimes.com/video/world/asia/100000003152942/to-kill-a-sparrow.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boston Globe > Big Picture

World's Most Dangerous Countries for Women        July 20, 2011

 

Targeted violence

against females,

dismal healthcare

and desperate poverty

make Afghanistan the world's

most dangerous country

in which to be born a woman,

with Congo a close second

due to horrific levels of rape.

 

Pakistan, India and Somalia

ranked third, fourth and fifth,

respectively,

in the global survey

of perceptions of threats

ranging from domestic abuse

and economic discrimination

to female foeticide

(the destruction

of a fetus in the uterus),

genital mutilation and acid attack.

 

A survey compiled

by the Thomson Reuters Foundation

to mark the launch of TrustLaw Woman*,

puts Afghanistan at the top of the list

of the most dangerous places in the world

for women.

 

TrustLaw asked 213 gender experts

from five contents to rank countries

by overall perceptions of danger

as well as by six categories of risk.

 

The risks consisted of health threats,

sexual violence, non-sexual violence,

cultural or religious factors,

lack of access to resources

and trafficking.

 

The collection of images

that follow were provided by Reuters

to illustrate the dangers women face

in those 5 countries.

-- Paula Nelson

 

(*TrustLaw Woman is a website

aimed at providing free legal advice

for women’s' groups around the world.)

 

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2011/07/
worlds_most_dangerous_countrie.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Afghan women        UK / USA

 

https://www.nytimes.com/topic/subject/women-in-afghanistan

 

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/06/
world/afghanistan-women-taliban.html

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/02/
world/asia/afghanistan-id-mothers-names.html

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/20/
world/asia/afghanistan-women-police.html

 

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/jun/03/
turning-grief-into-hope-one-afghan-terror-victims-legacy-of-learning

 

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/apr/21/
domestic-abuse-women-in-herat-afghanistan-may-survive-coronavirus-but-not-lockdown

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/30/
reader-center/afghanistan-girls-taliban.html

 

 

 

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/27/
world/asia/afghanistan-education-girls.html

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/21/
world/asia/taliban-girls-schools.html

 

https://www.npr.org/2019/02/02/
690857773/opinion-as-u-s-seeks-to-withdraw-troops-what-about-afghanistans-women

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2019/08/27/
754317018/whatever-happened-to-the-afghan-girls-imprisoned-for-failing-a-virginity-test

 

 

 

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2018/10/25/
660487232/the-remarkable-photos-of-lynsey-addario

 

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/feb/21/
afghanistan-female-prosecutor-lonely-mission

 

 

 

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/21/
opinion/women-afghanistan-equality.html

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/16/
obituaries/sima-wali-dead-champion-of-afghan-womens-rights.html

 

https://www.nytimes.com/video/world/asia/
100000005438452/a-child-bride-leaves-fear-behind.html - Oct. 6, 2017

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2017/08/22/
542838443/photos-the-hidden-world-of-afghanistans-black-widows

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/30/world/asia/afghanistan-
womens-rights-whereismyname.html

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2017/03/
19/520306787/afghan-women-say-no-to-the-dress

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2017/01/31/
512592727/all-female-orchestra-from-afghanistan-is-a-force-for-change

 

 

 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/05/
opinion/sunday/meet-sultana-the-talibans-worst-fear.html

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/05/14/
469959203/video-the-taliban-hated-her-art-but-she-became-an-artist-anyway

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/20/world/asia/afghan
-womans-nose-is-cut-off-by-her-husband-officials-say.html

 

 

 

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/06/08/
411699996/for-afghan-women-mountaineers-uphill-battle-begins-before-the-climb

 

http://www.npr.org/2015/03/31/
393900537/the-ascent-of-afghan-women

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Afghan women jailed

for so-called moral crimes        UK / USA

 

http://www.nytimes.com/video/world/asia/
100000003152942/to-kill-a-sparrow.html

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/07/
hamid-karzai-afghanistan-women-eu-mellbin

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/28/
afghan-women-jailed-moral-crimes

http://www.hrw.org/reports/2012/03/28/
i-had-run-away

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/01/
afghan-woman-freed-marry-rapist

http://www.hrw.org/features/afghanistan-moral-crimes

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/audioslideshow/2011/dec/05/
women-afghanistan-after-taliban-audio-slideshow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Afghanistan > domestic abuse        UK

 

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/apr/21/
domestic-abuse-women-in-herat-afghanistan-may-survive-coronavirus-but-not-lockdown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Afghanistan > rape        UK / USA

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-33023247?ocid=socialflow_twitter  

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/20/world/asia/
struggling-to-keep-afghan-girl-safe-after-a-mullah-is-accused-of-rape.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/28/world/asia/
rebelling-against-abuse-afghan-women-see-signs-of-change.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Afghanistan > Women's rights        UK / USA

 

https://www.nytimes.com/topic/subject/women-in-afghanistan

 

 

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/jun/03/
turning-grief-into-hope-one-afghan-terror-victims-legacy-of-learning

 

 

 

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2019/08/27/
754317018/whatever-happened-to-the-afghan-girls-imprisoned-for-failing-a-virginity-test

 

 

 

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/16/
obituaries/sima-wali-dead-champion-of-afghan-womens-rights.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/27/world/asia/
flawed-justice-after-a-mob-killed-an-afghan-woman.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/03/world/asia/
afghanistan-a-thin-line-of-defense-against-honor-killings.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/02/world/asia/
afghan-policewomen-struggle-against-culture.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/times-insider/2014/04/24/
newlyweds-on-the-run-a-challenge-in-reporting/

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/22/world/asia/
afghan-couple-find-idyllic-hide-out-in-mountains-but-not-for-long.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/31/world/asia/
afghan-couple-finally-together-but-a-storybook-ending-is-far-from-assured.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/10/world/asia/
2-star-crossed-afghans-cling-to-love-even-at-risk-of-death.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/08/world/asia/
womens-rights-seen-as-vulnerable-to-reversal-in-afghanistan.html

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/11/
afghan-judges-free-sahar-guls-torturers

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/24/
afghanistan-first-female-mayor

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/06/
afghanistan-attack-female-actors

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/17/
afghanistan-murder-female-leaders

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/09/world/asia/
roadside-bombs-kill-at-least-18-in-afghanistan.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/26/
afghan-women-security-fears-inequality

http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/video/2012/apr/25/
education-against-odds-afghanistan-audio-slideshow

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNsjgTv-u5o

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Afghanistan > Women's rights to education        UK

 

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/jun/03/
turning-grief-into-hope-one-afghan-terror-victims-legacy-of-learning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sima Wali        1951-2017

 

Sima Wali (...)

fled the Soviet-backed coup

in Afghanistan in 1978

to wage what she called

a “jihad for peace and equality”

by women

against “gender apartheid”

imposed by the Communists

and then by the Taliban

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/16/
obituaries/sima-wali-dead-champion-of-afghan-womens-rights.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Killing of Farkhunda

 

NYT    Dec. 26, 2015    Warning: graphic

 

  

 

The Killing of Farkhunda

 

Farkhunda Malikzada,

a 27-year-old Muslim woman

falsely accused of burning a Quran,

was killed by a mob in central Kabul

as hundreds watched and filmed.

 

This video contains scenes of graphic violence.

 

By JOHN WOO, ADAM B. ELLICK

and ALISSA J. RUBIN

NYT

Dec. 26, 2015 | 7:43

YouTube

http://www.nytimes.com/video/world/asia/
100000004108808/the-killing-of-farkhunda.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farkhunda Malikzada

 

Woman Killed in Kabul

Transformed From Pariah to Martyr        2015

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/09/
world/asia/afghanistan-farkhunda.html

https://www.nytimes.com/video/world/asia/
100000004108808/the-killing-of-farkhunda.html?playlistId=100000004704153

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/27/world/asia/
flawed-justice-after-a-mob-killed-an-afghan-woman.html

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/05/19/
407889527/judge-sends-11-afghan-policemen-to-prison-over-mob-killing-of-woman

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/08/
farkhunda-murder-woman-change-afghanistan

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/05/06/
404643535/afghan-judge-sentences-4-men-to-death-over-mob-killing-of-woman

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/03/
video-of-afghan-woman-farkhunda-being-lynched-by-mob-in-kabul-shown-to-court

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/28/world/asia/
tears-replace-cheers-in-re-enactment-of-farkhundas-killing-in-afghanistan.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/30/world/asia/
farkhunda-woman-killed-in-kabul-transformed-from-pariah-to-martyr.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/24/world/asia/
afghanistan-justice-sought-for-woman-killed-by-mob.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/21/world/asia/
horror-over-womans-lynching-in-afghanistan-but-some-support-too.html

http://www.lemonde.fr/asie-pacifique/article/2015/03/22/
a-kaboul-funerailles-d-une-femme-accusee-d-avoir-brule-
un-exemplaire-du-coran-et-lynchee
_4598714_3216.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A vision for Afghanistan:

Kabul's leading female MP

sets out her hopes and fears        7 April 2011

 

Fawzia Koofi was elected

as an MP in Afghanistan

in 2005,

and re-elected,

with the highest vote

achieved by a woman,

in 2010.

 

She explains

what took her to parliament,

and what makes her want to run

for the presidency in 2014
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2020/apr/06/fawzia-koofi-afghanistan-mp-bennett

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/feb/17/
fawzia-koofi-targets-afghan-presidency

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2020/apr/06/
fawzia-koofi-afghanistan-mp-bennett

 

 

 

 

 

Afghan elections:

Record number of women stand for parliament        24 August 2010

 

Despite everyday prejudice

and Taliban death threats

a record number of female candidates

are standing in September polls

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/24/
record-women-candidates-afghan-election

 

 

 

 

 

poverty, forced marriages, abuse        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/08/world/asia/
08burn.html

 

 

 

 

 

'honor killings'        USA

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/04/world/asia/
in-spite-of-the-law-afghan-honor-killings-of-women-continue.html

 

 

 

 

 

acid attacks        USA

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/13/world/asia/afghanistan-
womens-rights-acid-attack.html

 

 

 

 

 

widows        USA

http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2017/08/22/
542838443/photos-the-hidden-world-of-afghanistans-black-widows

 

 

 

 

 

 Dari

- a language spoken in Afghanistan        USA

http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2017/08/22/
542838443/photos-the-hidden-world-of-afghanistans-black-widows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Students of the Rustam School walking home last month

on a single track over the mountains,

the school standing behind them.

 

Photograph:

Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

 

A School With No Heat or Computers

but Many College-Bound Students. Mostly Girls.

NYT

June 27, 2019

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/27/
world/asia/afghanistan-education-girls.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Afghan girls > education

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/30/
reader-center/afghanistan-girls-taliban.html

 

 

 

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/27/
world/asia/afghanistan-education-girls.html

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/21/
world/asia/taliban-girls-schools.html

 

 

 

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/10/15/
447570460/meet-the-cool-girls-at-a-high-school-in-kabul-15girls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corpus of news articles

 

Women > Violence against women worldwide > Afghanistan

 

 

 

In Video of Execution,

Reign of Taliban Recalled

 

July 8, 2012

The New York Times

By MATTHEW ROSENBERG

and SANGAR RAHIMI

 

KABUL, Afghanistan — The scene that Afghan officials say was caught on video last month near Kabul was as horrific as it was once common in Afghanistan: a Taliban fighter executing a woman with repeated shots to the back of her head as his compatriots and scores of villagers watch, and then cheer.

The crime the woman was accused of: adultery.

The video, which has begun circulating in Kabul, recalls the Taliban’s five-year reign in Afghanistan, when public executions were advertised on the radio and people accused of crimes were shot in front of crowds that packed the capital’s stadium. Adultery was among the crimes punishable by death.

The execution captured on the video took place in the Shinwari district of Parwan Province, in central Afghanistan, less than a two-hour drive from Kabul. It occurred on or around June 23, said Col. Masjidi, a senior provincial police official. Colonel Masjidi, like many Afghans, uses a single name.

The area was once considered safe enough for foreigners to drive through. But security there has sharply deteriorated in recent years, and now even many Afghans think twice before driving on a main road that passes through the district.

In the video, Taliban members can be heard saying that the executioner is the woman’s husband, though Afghan officials offered conflicting accounts of what transpired in the village, Qol-i-Heer.

Colonel Masjidi said the woman’s real husband was a member of a village militia that had slain a local Taliban leader. The woman was executed in revenge on trumped up charges of adultery, he said.

Roshna Khalid, a spokeswoman for the provincial government, said the woman was killed for having multiple affairs with Taliban fighters. Ms. Khalid said the woman’s name was Najiba, and that she was in her 20s and did not have children.

A third official, Qari Abdul Rahman Ahmadi, a member of the provincial council, said the woman had run off with a Taliban commander, who in turn was accused of passing information to government forces.

He was shot in a nearby village before Najiba was moved to Qol-i-Heer to be executed by her husband, Mr. Ahmadi said.

A Taliban spokesman could not be reached for comment. The American Embassy and the NATO-led coalition condemned the execution.

At the outset of the fuzzy video, which runs nearly four minutes and appears to have been taken by a Taliban member with a cellphone, Najiba is a peripheral figure, seen kneeling in the background. Her body is turned away from the camera, her head is shrouded by a gray scarf.

Taliban fighters mill about in the foreground. A few dozen villagers watch from a hill above the impromptu execution ground. The existence of the video was first reported by the Reuters news agency, and obtained on Monday by The New York Times.

One of the Taliban says the Koran prohibits adultery. Killing the woman is “God’s order and decree,” he says. “If the issue was avenging deaths, we would beg for her amnesty. But in this case, God says, ‘You should finish her.’ ”

He concludes by saying, “It’s the order of God, and now it is her husband’s work to punish her.”

Then someone else says, “Give him a Kalashnikov.”

Armed with the borrowed assault rifle, the man identified as her husband approaches Najiba from behind. Several Taliban fighters can he heard whispering, “Get closer to her.”

He shoots Najiba nine times. The third shot jolts her body backward, leaving it flat on the ground. He keeps shooting.

Someone then says, “Long live the hero of Islam!” The Taliban begin cheering, and the villagers join in. One of the Taliban says, “Take my video, too,” and can be seen smiling, with ammunition strapped to his vest.

The video ends with the executioner shooting Najiba’s body four more times.

Ms. Khalid, the provincial spokeswoman, said Afghan security forces were sent to the village after the execution but most of the Taliban had fled. Those who remained were hiding in the houses of villagers, who were too scared of the Taliban to help the security forces, she said.

But an Interior Ministry official in Kabul said at least some of the villagers were in league with the insurgents. The official pointed to the cheering after the execution as evidence that the villagers supported it.

Kabul and other Afghan cities, where many women work and go to school, is not like the countryside, where reports often surface of women being killed over accusations of adultery or other moral crimes, the official said.

“Villagers are more traditional,” the official said.

On Sunday, the coalition said seven service members were killed in two separate roadside bombings in southern and eastern Afghanistan. Six service members died in the attack in the country’s east, an unusually high death toll for a single bombing.

In southern Afghanistan, at least 18 civilians were killed in three bombings along a stretch of road in Kandahar Province on Sunday. The first hidden bomb exploded after a minibus passed over it, said Jawid Faisal, a spokesman for the provincial government. Men from a nearby village then headed to the scene to help survivors on a tractor, which struck a second hidden bomb. A few hours later another vehicle hit a third hidden bomb.

Habib Zahori contributed reporting.

In Video of Execution, Reign of Taliban Recalled,
NYT, 8.7.2012,
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/09/world/asia/
roadside-bombs-kill-at-least-18-in-afghanistan.html

 

 

 

 

 

For Afghan Wives,

a Desperate, Fiery Way Out

 

November 7, 2010

The New York Times

By ALISSA J. RUBIN

 

HERAT, Afghanistan — Even the poorest families in Afghanistan have matches and cooking fuel. The combination usually sustains life. But it also can be the makings of a horrifying escape: from poverty, from forced marriages, from the abuse and despondency that can be the fate of Afghan women.

The night before she burned herself, Gul Zada took her children to her sister’s for a family party. All seemed well. Later it emerged that she had not brought a present, and a relative had chided her for it, said her son Juma Gul.

This small thing apparently broke her. Ms. Zada, who was 45, the mother of six children and who earned pitiably little cleaning houses, ended up with burns on nearly 60 percent of her body at the Herat burn hospital. Survival is difficult even at 40 percent.

“She was burned from head to toe,” her son remembers.

The hospital here is the only medical center in Afghanistan that specifically treats victims of burning, a common form of suicide in this region, partly because the tools to do it are so readily available. Through early October, 75 women arrived with burns — most self-inflicted, others only made to look that way. That is up nearly 30 percent from last year.

But the numbers say less than the stories of the patients.

It is shameful here to admit to troubles at home, and mental illness often goes undiagnosed or untreated. Ms. Zada, the hospital staff said, probably suffered from depression. The choices for Afghan women are extraordinarily restricted: Their family is their fate. There is little chance for education, little choice about whom a woman marries, no choice at all about her role in her own house. Her primary job is to serve her husband’s family. Outside that world, she is an outcast.

“If you run away from home, you may be raped or put in jail and then sent home and then what will happen to you?” asked Rachel Reid, a researcher for Human Rights Watch who tracks violence against women.

Returned runaways are often shot or stabbed in honor killings because the families fear they have spent time unchaperoned with a man. Women and girls are still stoned to death. Those who burn themselves but survive are often relegated to grinding Cinderella existences while their husbands marry other, untainted women.

“Violence in the lives of Afghanistan’s women comes from everywhere: from her father or brother, from her husband, from her father-in-law, from her mother-in-law and sister-in-law,” said Dr. Shafiqa Eanin, a plastic surgeon at the burn hospital, which usually has at least 10 female self-immolation cases at any one time.

The most sinister burn cases are actually homicides masquerading as suicides, said doctors, nurses and human rights workers.

“We have two women here right now who were burned by their mothers-in-law and husbands,” said Dr. Arif Jalali, the hospital’s senior surgeon.

Doctors cited two recent cases where women were beaten by their husbands or in-laws, lost consciousness and awoke in the hospital to find themselves burned because they had been shoved in an oven or set on fire.

For a very few of the women who survive burnings, whether self-inflicted or done by relatives, the experience is a kind of Rubicon that helps them change their lives. Some work with lawyers who are recommended by the hospital and request a divorce. Most do not.

 

Defiant and Depressed

Engaged at 8 and married at 12, Farzana resorted to setting herself on fire when her father-in-law belittled her, saying she was not brave enough to do so. She was 17 and had endured years of beatings and abuse from her husband and his family.

Defiant and depressed, she went into the yard. She handed her husband their 9-month-old daughter so the baby would not see her mother burning. Then she poured cooking fuel on herself.

“I felt so sad and such pain in my heart and I felt very angry at my husband and my father- and mother-in-law, and then I took the matches and lit myself,” she said.

Farzana’s story is about desperation and the extremes that in-laws often inflict on their son’s wives. United Nations statistics indicate that at least 45 percent of Afghan women marry before they are 18; a large percentage before they are 16. Many girls are still given as payment for debts, which sentences them to a life of servitude and, almost always, abuse.

A bright child whose favorite subjects were Dari language and poetry, Farzana dreamed of becoming a teacher. But she had been promised in marriage to the son of the family that was providing a wife for her brother, and when she turned 12, her in-laws insisted it was time to marry. Her future husband had just turned 14.

“On the marriage day, he beat me when I woke up and shouted at me,” she said. “He was always favoring his mother and using bad words about me.”

The beatings went on for four years. Then Farzana’s brother took a second wife, an insult to Farzana’s in-laws. Her mistreatment worsened. They refused to allow her to see her mother, and her husband beat her more often.

“I thought of running away from that house, but then I thought: what will happen to the name of my family?” she said. “No one in our family has asked for divorce. So how can I be the first?”

Doctors and nurses say that especially in cases involving younger women, fury at their situation, a sense of being trapped and a desire to shame their husbands into caring for them all come together.

This was true of Farzana.

“The thing that forced me to set myself on fire was when my father-in-law said: ‘You are not able to set yourself on fire,’ ” she recalled.

But she did, and when the flames were out, 58 percent of her body was burnt. As a relative bundled her raw body into a car for the hospital, her husband whispered: “If anybody asks you, don’t tell them my name; don’t say I had anything to do with it.’ ”

After 57 days in the hospital and multiple skin grafts, she is home with her mother and torn between family traditions and an inchoate sense that a new way of thinking is needed.

Farzana’s daughter is being brought up by her husband’s family, and mother and daughter are not allowed to see each other. Despite that, she says that she cannot go back to her husband’s house.

“Five years I spent in his house with those people,” she said. “My marriage was for other people. They should never have given me in a child marriage.”

 

A Common Option

Why do women burn themselves rather than choose another form of suicide?

Poverty is one reason, said Dr. Jalali. Many women mistakenly think death will be instant. Halima, 20, a patient in the hospital in August, said she considered jumping from a roof but worried she would only break her leg. If she set herself on fire, she said, “It would all be over.”

Self-immolation is more common in Herat and western Afghanistan than other parts of the country. The area’s closeness to Iran may partly explain why; Iran shares in the culture of suicide by burning.

Unlike many women admitted to the burn hospital, Ms. Zada showed no outward signs of distress before she set herself on fire. Her life, though, was hard. Her husband is a sharecropper. She cleaned houses and at night stayed up to clean her own home — a nearly impossible task in the family’s squalid earthen and brick two-room house buffeted by the Herati winds that sweep in a layer of dust each time the door opens.

To her family, she was a constant provider. “Before I thought of wanting something, she provided me with it,” said Juma Gul, 32, her eldest son, a laborer who earns about $140 a month. “She would embroider our clothes so that we wouldn’t feel we had less than other people.”

As he spoke, his 10-year-old twin sisters sat near him holding hands and a picture of their mother.

In the hospital, Ms. Zada rallied at first, and Juma Gul was encouraged, unaware of how hard it is to survive such extensive burns. That is especially true in the developing world, said Dr. Robert Sheridan, chief of surgery at the Shriners Burn Hospital in Boston and a trauma surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The greatest risk is sepsis, a deadly infection that generally starts in the second week after a burn and is hard to stop, Dr. Sheridan said. Even badly burned and infected patients can speak almost up to the hour of their death, often giving families false hopes.

“She was getting better,” her son insisted.

But infection had, in fact, set in, and the family did not have the money for powerful antibiotics that could give her whatever small chance there was to survive. Juma Gul eventually managed to beg and borrow the money, but not before the infection spread.

Two weeks after his mother set herself on fire, he stood by her bed as she stopped breathing.

For Afghan Wives, a Desperate, Fiery Way Out,
NYT, 7.11.2010,
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/08/world/asia/08burn.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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