Wednesday, November 15, 2006

When Burning to Death Is Preferable To Life

This is so awful I almost didn't write about:

Increasing numbers of Afghan women are committing suicide by setting fire to themselves to escape difficult lives, according to NGOs based in the country.

They say women forced into marriage or suffering chronic abuse are killing themselves out of desperation.

Although estimates are difficult to calculate, one group says cases of self-immolation in the capital have doubled since last year.

Cases are said to be reported every day in the western city of Herat.

A system which allows women no other way out when things are bad is horrible to contemplate, but somehow this quote hit me even harder:

She said the choice of self-immolation may be influenced by the fact that many of the women sought shelter in Iran, where the practise is more common.

It's as if the article writes about shaving body hair or about hairstyles or something similar, but the topic is the best way to kill oneself in a world where women are pawns on the chessboard.

It's difficult to say how common this horror is, but it obviously exists. Imagine being a woman born into a family which doesn't value women, imagine not being able to read or write or really go out on your own safely, and then imagine that you are given to some totally unknown people as a payment for your father's debts. How is this not slavery?