The tragedy of forced marriage

Afghan brides are burning themselves to death


The tragedy of forced marriageAlthough Afghan women have attained greater freedoms since Western soldiers first arrived in their country in 2001, one imprint of the restrictions placed on women under Taliban rule remains: forced marriages. Now brides who find themselves in these hellish arrangements are resorting to a disturbing method of escape—they’re burning themselves to death. Earlier this month, it was reported that the Herat Regional Hospital burns unit in western Afghanistan had handled 51 cases of female self-immolation between January and July of this year. Of those cases, 38 patients succumbed to their wounds.

The doctor in charge of the burns unit, Mohamed Aref Jalali, said that the practice comes from Iran, which has one of the highest rates of self-immolation in the world, especially among Kurds living in rural areas along the border. Many Afghan refugees adopted the custom when they fled there during the decade-long war with the Soviet Union that ended in 1989, and continued it when they returned home in the 1990s. The popularity of burning oneself to death has since grown among poor, uneducated Afghan women who live in areas where young girls are traditionally forced into marriage. 

Afghan laws stipulate that girls under the age of 16 should not be married, but an astonishing 60 per cent are forced into marriages when they are children anyway. Choosing death over marriage is a result of the stark daily routine of Afghan women: many are treated like slaves, kept inside and ordered to cook and clean, while others are repeatedly beaten or raped.

As part of the coalition efforts in Afghanistan, women have been encouraged to break the shackles that once bound them. Under Taliban rule, girls were banned from attending school, while women were publicly flogged—or in some cases executed—for breaking the law. Education and grassroots programs are widely seen as vehicles for surmounting these problems, but with 80 per cent of the female population illiterate, change will happen slowly.


The tragedy of forced marriage

  1. And I thought my life was hard. Jesus, you gotta feel for these girls.

  2. I don't care what religion who ascribe to or what problems you have with the world. Nobody deserve to be treated like that.

  3. I wish we could bring all the women and little girls over here. This breaks my heart.

    • Importing them all here is not a solution. Canada can not be the world's refuge place, if we intend to build a prosperous nation. What needs to happen is reforms in the country in question. And, yes, I feel for these women and girls, too …

    • Yes, let's not bring them here in case this practice catches on here too! The thing is, although Canadian women don't set themselves on fire to get out of marriages, they commit suicide using other methods. Yes, we can say that Canada is humane, but we cannot say that women don't kill themselves to get out of a bad relationship, with or without divorce laws. I suppose gasoline is easy to come by in Afghan as opposed to sleeping pills.

  4. Isn't it just terrible that we turn over captured Taliban to the Afghan government. The Afghan government might do what the Taliban do to women; throw acid in their face, stone them to death, keep them covered and in houses for life. Wait a minute, why is turning them over a bad idea?

  5. To you Afghan/Taliban men who abuse women- you soul murdering monsters -you do not fool anyone. You know trhe vicious cycle you perpetrate. The more you deny and abuse women the worse you feel. The worse you feel the more you deny and abuse women- to make yourselves feel more powerful- but you are insignificant worms – you- who prey on and deny women their lives-you deny the very ones who give you life – who create, feed and nurture you – into the horrible oppressors you are – santimonious despots – shame on you.

  6. Dramatically changing the political structure of these third world countries is about the best we can do at this point.
    The faster the better.
    Warning: Graphic content at link source.

    The jihadi terrorist does to the world what it does to it's own women.

  7. I want to get married
    A girl to live in Canada
    To be an Afghan