Afghan women setting fire to themselves burns me up….

At the only medical center in Afghanistan specifically treating victims of burning— a common form of suicide in that region—through early October, 75 women arrived with burns. That’s up nearly 30 percent from last year, according to a New York Times story.

Most of the burns are self-inflicted, while others are only made to look that way. Afghani women are burning themselves to escape lives of poverty and abuse, partly because the tools to do it are readily available, such as matches and cooking fuel, the story says.

Troubles at home and mental illness often go undiagnosed or untreated, and choices for Afghan women are extraordinarily restricted. There is little chance for education, little choice about who a woman marries, no choice about her role in her own house, which is to serve her husband’s family.

Some women run away, and return to be shot or stabbed in honor killings because their families fear they have spent un-chaperoned time with a man. Those who burn themselves but survive are often relegated to “grinding Cinderella existences” while their husbands marry other, “untainted” women, the story says.

United Nations statistics say at least 45 percent of Afghan women marry before 18; a large percentage before 16. Many girls are given as payment for debts, the story says.

The Afghani people need to light a fire under their government, to get with the times one of these centuries. Its young girls and women are obviously suffering horribly, and until something changes, their fires will continue to burn, whether it be inside them, or out.

Read the story here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/08/world/asia/08burn.html?src=ISMR_AP_LO_MST_FB

By Felicia Dechter

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