Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Combating growing problem of self-immolation in Iraqi Kurdistan

In recent weeks, the issue of increasing numbers of female burn victims in northern Iraq has been covered more extensively in the media. According to the latest report, from McClatchy Newspapers, while many of the surviving women and girls tell stories about how they got injured while working at home, according to the doctors and nurses this is not the case, as 80 percent of the burn cases in the northern cities of Irbil and Sulaimaniyah are actually suicide attempts.

According to the article: “Suicide by fire among girls and young women in the region has been increasing sharply since 2004,” adding later: “Some of the victims are as young as 12, but most range from age 15 to 25.”

“Some experts blame an economic boom that’s lured traditional villagers into cities with more modern values, resulting in family strains,” the article says. “But because the victims include lifelong city residents as well, a patriarchal culture that gives little power to women may be a bigger factor.”

Suicide by self-immolation is an extremely painful way to die and surviving girls and women sometimes have to face a terrible situation after they are released from the hospital, as, according to the article “their husbands and friends desert them and parents hide them from the rest of the family and visitors out of shame.”

The article also highlights the opinions of Amin Monsour, the director of the Women’s Union of Kurdistan, the largest women’s advocacy group in the region. Monsour calls on the Kurdistan Regional Government to “build counseling centers to teach men and women the basics of relationships.” She also calls for the establishment of hospitals with post-discharge centers that have psychologists and counselors to help with coping, community reintegration and job-seeking.

For full article click here

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