July 12th, 2010
12:30 PM ET

When women set themselves on fire

(Time.com) — Fawzia felt like she had no way out. Married off to her cousin at age 16, she had been beaten routinely by her husband and in-laws in their poor rural home in Paktia province for the first three years of her marriage. She complained bitterly to her parents, but no solution seemed imminent. Marriage had become too much for her to bear. Then, after she saw her brother-in-law strike his wife on the head with a gun, Fawzia finally did what she had threatened to do many times before: she doused herself in cooking fuel and struck a match.

The Ministry of Women's Affairs has documented a total of 103 women who set themselves on fire between March 2009 and March 2010. No one knows what the real numbers are, given the difficulty of collecting data in the country. "More than 80% [who try to kill themselves in this way] cannot be saved," says Dr. Ahmed Shah Wazir, who runs the burn unit at Kabul's Istiqlal Hospital, one of only two such specialized wards in Afghanistan.

Read more from Time magazine's Abigail Hauslohner at Time.com


Filed under: Life and Culture • Women's issues
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. nabi18

    check out this http://www.islamicsolutions.com/islam-gave-the-world-the-gift-of-liberty/

    July 25, 2010 at 1:13 am | Report abuse |
  2. walker

    This information is for idiots who believe that Hindu women set themselves on fire worried about other Hindus. This was necessitated by the Muslim hordes who invaded India and who killed the Rajput kings and took their women folk as prize for their Harem (a visit to Istanbul will clear your mind). These women applied the same logic that heroic Americans used before jumping out of the twin towers when the Muslims rammed aiplanes into the twin towers. Go to India and see the destruction (state by state, town by town, village by village and you will come to your senses) inflicted on Hindus by Muslims before letting lose in this forum. For the Rajput woman this was the last resort to defend her honour from the marauding barbarians. Hinduism is practised througout the world and Hindus value every life and equate it to the supreme power itself. There are no gradations of life, like that officially sanctioned by US' favourite allies S.Arabia or Pakistan.

    July 17, 2010 at 6:02 am | Report abuse |
  3. CYRUS HOWELL

    THIS WOMAN'S PARENTS ARE WORTHLESS.
    I PERSONALLY WOULD HAVE GOTTEN MY DAUGHTER OUT OF A HOPELESS SITUATION MUCH EARLIER.
    " LET HER DIE. SHE IS JUST ANOTHER WORTHLESS MOUTH TO FEED. WE DON'T WANT HERE BACK HERE."
    WHY DID HER MOTHER EVEN BOTHER TO CARRY HER FOR NINE MONTHS AND GIVE BIRTH?
    HER PARENTS NEED TO BE LIT ON FIRE.

    July 14, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Anth

    here's a thought, if you're gonna do that, might as well take the offender with you😀

    July 14, 2010 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
  5. Nate

    She should set him on fire...

    July 13, 2010 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. john

    You Americans have your heads so far up your behinds. India is predominantly Hindu. These women who are burning themselves are Hindu. You really believe that all evil in the world is perpetrated by Moslems don't you?

    July 13, 2010 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mimi G of Toronto

    Everybody is missing the key element here. Above everything, we are all human beings. We need to treat one another with respect, regardless of what religion, color, or background. All human beings are same, everyone seeks happiness, no one wants suffering. All these "rules/laws" are simply man-made, not God.

    For example, in the Arab country, women are forbidden to drive; this is simply a man-made law. But it is their custom and they have that right in their own country to enforce, or choose to change it as they see fit. But when it involves causing pain and suffering to an individual (beating a wife, stoning to death, etc), then I'm sorry, this is unacceptable. Any custom that inflicts pain and suffering on a human being, is wrong, and it should not be followed. It is that simple.

    So people need to rethink what their certain beliefs or customs are doing to a human being, if there is any pain and suffering involved, then get rid of that belief/custom by changing the law. Woman bear children, nurse them into adulthood, they should be valued and respected. This is what needs to be taught to uncilvilized people who treat women with such cruelty.

    July 13, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Umme Omar

    When Islam came to Arab world, the pagans used to treat their women very badly. Slaves and women were the most oppressed people in the society. Infant girls were burried alive by their own fathers. Women had no right to property and inheritance. But Islam changed all that. But now people are returning to their beastly instincts. We need to revive the true values of Islam. The prophet said 'the best among you is best with his wife'. 'Heaven is under the feet of mothers' 'whoever has two or more dautghters and he takes good care of them and give them good education will go to heaven' I paraphrased the last tradition just to make it short. West has given rights to women but they are in the name of secularism, not religion. Most atheists and agnostics say these things because they have not read Quran in depth. They just look at the behavior of Muslims, which is not so good.

    July 13, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Smith in Oregon

    It is would a strong message to the world if Michelle Obama began to speak out against the Muslim intolerance and inequality it shows and treats Muslim women with. The lack of civil rights, the lack of judicial rights and the lack of educational rights are barbaric and should be roundly condemned around the world until such gender oppression is destroyed and overcome.

    July 13, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rick McDaniel

    The Islamic religion is the most male dominated, oppressive religion against women, I have heard of, in the world.

    Perhaps the real consideration of this, is how abusive the Islamic male is, and how inhumane they are, in all aspects of their existence. yet they profess to be so religious.....so one is left with no alternative, but to question the validity of the religion.

    July 13, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anonymuzz

      One is left with no option but to question the validity of your education on the matter.😉

      July 14, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • alice

      My islamic husband is the kindest, most thoughtful, hard working man I have ever known. There is nothing to do but accept the validity of the religion. Bet you don't accept that reasoning?? ; )

      August 22, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Etre

    "No way out" is the saddest and hardest state to face. I sympathize with such women!
    I cannot believe that STILL in this time and age we find such bizarre casualties!

    July 13, 2010 at 6:03 am | Report abuse |
  12. atal

    I wonder why incidents like these are attributed to Islam.....In Islam there is no place for those who commit suicide......People like Raptor are really ignorant t about Islam.....he speaks out of ignorance and stupidity. He should learn some manner and behave like a descnet citizen.

    July 13, 2010 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Raptor

      To be fair I feel the same way about all the religions. Muslim, Catholic, Mormon, JW ect you are all a buch of sheep that prefer to be lead around by your noses instead of deciding the difference between right and wrong for yourselves. I know a lot more about Islam then you think having worked with them for several years. The are petty and small minded people that cannot think for themselves. It is obvious in the way they blindly follow proclamations from an individual because he says he is a man of God. You are a joke and a stain on the fabric of society.

      Tell me where was the peace and love when my 6 year old daughter was beaten by a bunch of older muslims for saying she didnt believe in GOD is that the kind of love that you are taught to portray. You show me one bit of evidence that any of these religious people are really what they say they are and not petty selfserving cowards and maybe I will change my mind
      I know I know you are gonna say that is not the muslim way but I am here to tell you from experience that it is. Yes there are individuals that dont act this way but a majority of you do and feel no guilt from the acts that you commit in the name of your god. Believe me when these men get out of prison I will be showing them the light and the way with my boot.

      July 13, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. Raptor

    LOL you are really funny for an ignorant muslim lol

    July 13, 2010 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Anonymuzz

      LOL YOU ARE REALLY FUNNY FOR A FLAT OUT IGNORANT FOOL

      July 13, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  14. Raptor

    I have said it before and I will say it again. To be Muslim is to support these pigs. the Muslim religions should be banned from all civilized nations. They talk of peace and love while beating their Wives and killing children. They kill innocents in the name of their god and expect others to follow their ways or die. I don't care how much you spout about how Islam is about peaces and understanding you are all a bunch of heartless cruel sadistic murderers. The only ones that can end this is the Muslim people themselves. Stand up and do what is right denounce this religion for what it is and accept that there is no god only Man and start living in reality.

    July 12, 2010 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Raptor

      Since i don't believe in Hell I doubt thats where i will end up. Tell me What are you (I assume your a muslim) doing to stop your people from commiting these acts. Let me guess NOTHING. Do you beat your wife how about little children lol You and your fellow muslims disgust me you are all losers

      July 12, 2010 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • mean people suck

      The problem with this logic is that American people abuse their wives and children. It is not a religions fault.. It is the fault of the person.. think about how many catholic priests that are charged w/ abusing young children. Stop blaming a religion.. start blaming a person

      July 13, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. FatLazyIgnorantSUVDrivingPigAmericanIdiot

    Gotta admit, she's better off with Allah...

    July 12, 2010 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  16. frontalboundary

    Over 100 women have set themselves on fire since obama was elected.

    July 12, 2010 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Val

    This a deeply saddening thing to happen. How much can the human being take? This is were we need human rights groups to step in and do something about this. I'm sure glad this didn't come with pictures or I would have been sick.

    July 12, 2010 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel-2

      More of this right-wing bla-bla-bla touting NATO.How old it gets!

      July 13, 2010 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  18. Georgia Goad

    I shudder to think a woman has been put through so much pain that the only way out she sees is burning herself alive. The horror these poor women have lived through, die a hugely painful death. What happens to anyone that doesn't die from her injuries, being scarred and crippled from her act of hopelessness? My heart hurts for these poor women. I will repeat what I read above, I am so glad I live in the United States where we can choose for ourselves. How lucky we are...so many don't appreciate our freedom....just think about it.

    July 12, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel-2

      I'll say it again,had the Communists triumphed during the Civil War of the 1980's,these tragedies wouldn't be taking place today and don't let anybody tell you diffferent and just ignore all these right-wing jerks who keep on trying to make a perverted joke out of this!Enough said.

      July 12, 2010 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
      • Darth Cynic

        "I'll say it again,had the Communists triumphed [...] Enough said."

        IF!

        If the communists had triumphed!

        Hell, how about if Hitler had won we'd all be speaking German. If. Let me tell you about 'if', 'if' does not mean a damn thing in the real world, you know, the one we inhabit. The tottering old guard communists in their fuzzy dotage launched a fool invasion that their creaking economy and ill equipped army were in no condition to fight, they got their backsides handed to them and took flight. That's reality not your fantasies on 'if', which I might add probably would not have made a diff anyway as Soviet control – and interest for that matter – hardly stretched to domestic issues. The only change would be that we would not hear of it, what with good old paranoid Soviet secrecy, not to forget the political killings and imprisonments, gulags and such. Oh yes, it would be so much better if those revolutionary authoritarians ran the roost with their iron fist.

        July 14, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Onesmallvoice

    Now I suppose we're going to have a lot of right-wing nutjobs blogging in here in order to make a sick joke out of this,too.Have these people absolutely nothing of shame???I guess not!!!

    July 12, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel-2

      Again I'll say it,MaryM.Had the Communists not been defeated in 1992,this problem just might not exist today.

      July 13, 2010 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  20. ALI

    I FELL SO SORRY FOR ALL ISLAMIC PEOPLE, THEY HAVE NO IDEA HOW SAD IT IS TO BE SO DISTRUCTIVE.AND TO BE IN SUCH BONDAGE, SAD SAD SAD.
    TO LIVE IN THE PRE-DARK AGES AND WHEN THE WESTERN WORLD'S WOMEN TURN TO ISLAM AS A BELIFE I WONDER WHAT THEY ARE THINKING. PLEASE GOD IN HEAVEN HAVE MERCY ON THEM WHAT A FOOLISH AND DESTRUCTIVE LIFE STYLE.

    July 12, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Onesmallvoice

      Back in the 1980's the Russians too felt sorry for the Afghan people and endeavored to save an indigenous Communist government until Makhail Gorbachev saw the futility of it all and decided to withdraw in 1988.We really need to follow this example.

      July 12, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anonymuzz

      When women in the west turn to Islam as a belief system it is not NEARLY the same as somebody being born into a supposed Islamic world in countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, etc.

      While these countries seem to be behind the times per se - look at the large Muslim communities in NYC and below Detroit. How many Muslim women have been killed here in the states? I'd bet it isn't that many.

      July 13, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
      • Umme Omar

        Anonymuzz, Indian women used to set themselves on fire when their husbands died. Because the rest of the world would make sure that if she did not choose to die that way, they would dishonor her and put her in eternal seclusion. It was in their culture. It is not from teachings of Islam or even Hinduism. Here in the west, people beat their wives and girlfriends. Ever heard of Chris Brown and Rehanna? Or Vander Sloot? He has beaten two girlfriends to death. Islam give rights to wives better than any other man made relgion. People just follow their beastly instincts all over the world. Why blame Islam or any other faith?

        July 13, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
      • Anonymuzz

        @Umme Omar: I did not blame it on any faith. I was giving an example.. comparing the middle east Muslims to the western Muslims. Alot less of the western Muslim women in the USA are hurt than in countries that are Muslim in the middle east.

        Yeah, it's all about culture and just bad people. I know.🙂

        July 14, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
      • alice

        You are correct. In the states we are free to learn and practice Islam as we see fit: as a religion of peace, Whether the Imams like it or not we have the right to divorce and to seek help against domestic violence. We are able to have most of our islamic rights enforced here, unlike many islamic countries. while some are hyper conservative (as are many American christian women) I know of no American born muslimas who think the Taliban represent an islamic way of life.

        August 22, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Radical

    THAN X CNN FOR YOUR INVISIBLE DEMOCRACY

    July 12, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Gary Johndro

    Who cares as long as the Afghan government takes orders from NATO?We warmongers sure don't.End of story!!!

    July 12, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Jacqueline

    This really saddens me. It makes me sad for these women. At the same time I praise God that I am an American citizen right here in my United States.

    July 12, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Jass

      The suicide part, yes. The beating your wife part, not so much.

      July 12, 2010 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anonymuzz

      Islam does not condone either. People need to start realizing it is not ISLAM but the hundreds of years of CULTURE that created these behaviors.

      The Quran has violent stories, yes! But SO DOES THE OLD TESTAMENT!

      It is not the RELIGION. It is the PEOPLE PRACTICING IT IN THESE COUNTRIES.

      July 13, 2010 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |