Burning Hearts

Burning Hearts Setting themselves on fire is the only perceived means of protest for many women in Afghanistan. Cases of self immolation are on the increase.
Idemah's body is covered in raw burns. She's so badly burnt that doctors are sure she will die. "It is God's will. It was my destiny." Like all the other self immolation victims in Herat's hospital, Idemah is too ashamed to admit what really happened. She claims she was burnt in a domestic accident. But doctors know she tried to kill herself because of family problems. Doctors here treat up to 30 women a month. Their pain is intolerable. "The only people that burn themselves are women and girls," explains Dr Fraidoon Asfali. "No man will burn himself because they can get their rights. But women cannot get their rights so they burn themselves." Others burn themselves to escape forced marriages. In a country where women are frequently oppressed, self immolation is a desperate attempt to escape. But there are hopes that the new government will address the problem. As Dr Aziz explains, "When women understand that they have rights, then this will stop."

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