Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Self-immolation among Kurdish women a major concern

Alarming numbers of Kurdish women turn to self-immolation as a form of protest, BBC News reported Saturday.

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, a disturbing trend has begun to emerge – women setting themselves ablaze in silent protest because of family problems. The article, citing anecdotal evidence from medial sources and women’s activists, say that “on average a woman a day tries to kill herself in the Kurdistan region.”
Theories as to why this trend is occurring range from depression based on strict religious beliefs to the oppression of conservative, patriarchal societies. Chilura Hardi, the head of the women’s radio station Radio Khatuzeen said of the situation: “The way they kill themselves is a real tragedy. Can you imagine? You put kerosene on yourself and light it. Some of them lock themselves in a room so that nobody can actually get to them and save them.”
During Saddam’s reign, female subordination was institutionalized. In the Anfal campaign against the Kurds, for example, Saddam killed all the men in the villages and let the women attempt to survive alone. To move on from this type of rule takes time, and Iraqi society is still having difficulty moving forward, Hardi says.
The Kurdish region has recognized the issue of self-immolation, with human rights minister Dr. Yousif Shwan Aziz admitting that immolation is a problem that his government is struggling to deal with. Aziz discussed efforts to address the issue, and said that his community believes in the “progress of women and men.” However many women in the area do not share their government’s optimism. One woman, whose sister burnt to death, stated, “I don't believe that women here have power. The reports in the media are just talk. The reality in our society is totally different. It’s a fact that the government is too feudal. It doesn’t have a solution for the problems.”
For the full article, click here.


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