Daikundi women increasingly resort to suicide
NEILI (Pajhwok): Girls and women are increasingly committing suicide in central Daikundi province as a result of domestic tensions, undue freedoms and weakening religious beliefs.
In just one week, according to figures from the local branch of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission, four suicide attempts were reported across the province.
The latest incident in Shahristan district the other day involved an 18-year-old girl. Being illiterate, she ended it all by consuming a poisonous substance due to household strains.
Rights campaigners say another girl, aged 16, tried to commit suicide in the provincial capital and a 30-year-old woman sough to take her life by consuming poison in Khadir district. However, they were rescued after being evacuated to hospital.
A 20-year-old student also ended up in a Neili hospital following a suicide attempt. His condition is said to be gradually improving. He took the extreme step after the parents of the girl he loved rejected his proposal.
Civil hospital doctors confirmed receiving four people, including three females and a young man. One girl breathed her last while three others were saved. Police say they are investigating the girl’s suicide and the motive will be ascertained soon.
Jawad Dadgar, head of the rights watchdog for Daikundi, verified an increase in suicide cases. The commission documented 15 attempted suicide incidents involving females in the first four months of last year.
Two of the girls killed themselves but the rest were saved. During the same period this year, the panel has registered 17 cases, including four deaths. Last year, the total number of such cases was 47, including four deaths.
Dadgar told Pajhwok Afghan News: “Suicide incidents, driven by different reasons, are emerging as a worrying trend among girls in Daikundi. Our findings show most women try to end it all due to family disputes and misconduct.”
Economic problems represent another aspect of these incidents, according to the official, who called the issue a major concern for society. Mostly women from impoverished households resort to killing themselves.
Director of Women’s Affairs Zaki Rezaee says the level of awareness among females has risen considerably. “Women can no longer remain silent on their mistreatment and family tensions. They have the resources to move the court and win their rights.”
However, she noted interference from tribal elders reflected weaknesses in the judicial structure. The director viewed ambiguous laws on underage marriage and unwholesome customs as other factors behind violence against women.
On the other hand, resident opine that undue freedoms and decreasing adherence to religion are driving youth into a variety of problems. Neili resident Mehdi claims misinterpretation of democracy and too much of liberty are pushing youth away from Islam.
“There is no place for suicidal tendencies either in Islam or in the Afghan culture. I don’t know why we have been witness to such cases,” he remarked, stressing the need for observance of Islamic teachings.
Zainab, who belongs to Shahristan district, warned of an alarming rise in suicide cases if males continue to flex their muscles, undermine women’s rights and treat sons and daughters differently on the basis of gender.
She says Afghanistan is a male-dominated society, where gender-based biases and flawed traditions are forcing girls and women into committing suicide. She suggests education and awareness to deal with the social challenge.
Mohammad Hashim Alizada, head of the Nasir Khisro Institute of Higher Education, characterised democracy as the main factor behind suicides among youth.
“Democracy is striking root in Daikundi at a good clip. Regarding their identity, people are faced with a strange vacuum. They can neither forget their past nor contend with the helplessness of the new world they have entered,” he observed.
Alizada explains family heads remain loyal to ancient convictions, but you believe in contemporary concepts of modernity and liberty -- a conflict situation that spawns domestic tensions. Unemployment and poverty are also among principal reasons for suicide among youth.
Religious scholars, who are better-positioned to change mind-sets and reform attitudes with Islamic teachings, can play a crucial role in mitigating this situation, the sociologist maintains.
Media outlet, government and rights campaigners can positively influence the awareness process through informative programmes, he continues.
In line with Islamic teachings, hell is the abode of those committing suicide. Renowned Shiite scholar Ali Mohammad Ahmadi says suicide is an un-Islamic act. However, he regrets the growing trend among Daikundi youth.
He deplores the ulema failure to spotlight the issue the way it needs to tackled, reminding the scholars of their duty to conscientise the masses on this sensitive question. The Department of Haj Affairs has also not prepared any awareness programmes.
The phenomenon is particularly worrying among females, says Ahmadi, who also refers to suicide attempts by males. He urges the media and civil society to help reduce violence against women and dissuade them from taking their lives.
“If these entities play a proactive role, violence against women and suicides among them can be brought down considerably,” the scholar feels.
Over the last couple of years, 123 girls and women attempted suicide and 15 of them lost their lives. A bride was killed at the start of Ramadan when a furious father opened fire at in son in Neili.
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