Death by Fire

While Iraqi women are turning to prostitution to survive, Afghan women are increasingly "committing suicide by setting fire to themselves to escape difficult lives."

Although estimates are difficult to make, one group says cases of self-immolation in the capital have doubled since last year.

Cases are said to be reported every day in the western city of Herat.

In Kabul, some 36 cases of self-immolation have been recorded this year.

…Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission chief Sima Simar told the meeting: "It [self-immolation] is the final decision for women who don't have any other way to solve their problems."

One Afghan survivor, a 16-year-old girl, told the summit she had endured beatings from her drug-addicted husband, a man 25 years her senior and whom she was forced to marry.

"When he did not have access to heroin and narcotics, he tortured me. After midnight he would hit me," she said.

"That night he hit me and hit my head. Blood was coming from my nose. I asked him why he was doing it and he hit me even more."
Do I think George W. Bush is uniquely responsible for the endemic cultural issues that leave Afghan women with little or no education, few legal choices, and almost no opportunity for self-sufficiency? No. Do I want to scream in a fit of rage every time I hear him proudly take responsibility for making it possible for 25 million women and girls to “go to school, vote in elections, and play an active role in their societies,” preying on Americans’ ignorance of what the reality for many women in Iraq and Afghanistan is? Yes. Like his every other claim about the successful and “accomplished” missions in those two wartorn countries, his claimed record on improving the lives of their women is utterly false. We haven’t reduced terrorism; we’ve exacerbated it. We haven’t made women’s lives better; we’ve made them worse. That’s the plain truth of the matter, and when Dubya looks at the mess he’s made and chooses not only to do nothing about it, but consistently misrepresents the reality, W doesn’t stand for Women. It stands for his typical do-nothing, heh-and-shrug, dissembling attitude: Whatever.

(More from Echidne and Majikthise.)

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