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From family oppositions and suicide attempts to standing up against forced marriage

by: Shahira Elhami

One cold winter day, we were sitting by the window in the sun, sipping freshly brewed cardamom black tea. With a deep look and an energetic smile, she started talking to me and wanted to tell everything that has happened to her so far.
Her name is Fatima, but everyone calls her Faati. A girl who has been able to finish school with excellent grades despite all the restrictions and economic problems and after a lot of effort, she successfully passed the university entrance exam.
She is currently a second year veterinary student at Herat University.

Perhaps, like Fatima, there are many girls in the country who enter university every year with the support of their families; But what sets her apart from other girls in her age is her past, full of fear and sadness.

Fatima entered into a forced marriage a year ago.
“My father used to say that if you did not accept, I would kill you. I was beaten a lot, I was in a lot of pain and because of fear, I had to say yes at the time of marriage.”

She blames her father for all her problems and says that every time the suitor came home, her father beat her to accept the marriage.

“Every time I refused, I was told that you love someone else. I thought the world was dark and I had no way back, love that is not forced.”

I was sitting next to Fatima, and as she was telling me her story, she had strangely strangled her throat so that she could not even utter a word.

After pausing for a moment and taking a deep breath, she wiped away the tears with a bitter sigh in the corner of her sleeve, saying that her father had never loved his daughters and that because he wished he had several sons, God had given only one son for him. And had given birth to six daughters, which was why he had never been able to experience true paternal affection. She has always been abused, and her father tried to get her out of the house because she was not satisfied with the marriage, and even asked her to hang herself.

To save herself from this forced marriage, Fatima committed suicide, once by cutting a vein in her hand and twice by taking nerve drugs.

“I tried several times to talk to my father about it, but one night he told me either you would accept it or I would hang you,” he said.
“That night was the first time I tried to commit suicide by eating four whole packs of neuroleptics.” But despite three suicide attempts, she was still able to survive.

Fatima was able to reach this stage of life with great efforts, but not all girls have the chance and opportunity to reach this stage of life.

Despite all the family oppositions, she has been able to divorce and separate from her husband through the mediation of the tribal elders, and to continue her education and goals with a strong will to build a better life.

“I did not love my husband”

Sahar (a pseudonym) is another victim of forced marriages. She states that her family has convinced her to accept the marriage.

“When I was engaged, he always beat me, but I said maybe we would get better after the wedding, but nothing ended. Even three days after the marriage, he started beating me again.”

Sahar’s father-in-law and husband kicked her out of the house. Although she has not been able to separate from her husband, she has been living in her father’s house for 2 months now.

Meanwhile, according to previous media reports by the Herat Court of Appeals, about 844 divorce applications were registered last year, of which 240 were separated and in the remaining cases, couples were persuaded to continue living.

Many victims of forced marriages believe that suicide is the last and only way to escape the pain they face every day.

According to Herat Regional Hospital officials, about 1,000 women commit suicide each year for a variety of reasons, including family disputes.

Asif Jalali, the chief physician of the Herat Regional Hospital, says that in the past five months, we had 702 suicides, 10 to 15 percent of which were accidental and some of which were intentional.

There are 13 cases of hanging and one case of suspected self-immolation, which is no difference compared to last year.

“I am twenty-five years old and my husband is eighty years old.”

She was leaning on the hospital bed with a tired face and squinting eyes.
Serum is attached to one hand and squeezes her forehead with the other hand, saying that she was brought to the hospital last night due to the eating of rat poison.

Her name is Kuki, another woman who committed suicide because she was not satisfied with her husband.
“A month ago, my husband said that you are my sister and mother, and he separated me and my daughter from himself. But when the argumentations reached the court, he withdrew that I will not divorce.”

Kuki, despite being repeatedly encouraged by her husband to commit suicide by stabbing and the mouse poison, was still unable to obtain a divorce due to her husband’s opposition.

She states that her husband’s uncle gave her the rat poison to kill herself, but she strongly opposed at first.
“My husband’s uncle said, ‘If it is by force or by consent, we will take you. Even, we will sleep with the woman ,who is like our sister and mother.” She says that after hearing these words, she wanted to end her life with that rat poison, which she eventually survived.

Muhammad Nabil Faqiryar, a doctor at the Herat Regional Hospital, says that two main factors play a major role in women’s suicide, endogenous and exogenous factors.
Endogenous factors can be mental, psychological and convulsive problems in which a person is involved with herself or himself without external factors and suffers from within, which will eventually try to commit suicide.

Mr. Faqiryar also states that these people need to see a psychologist or a psychiatrist to be treated for periods of three to six months or even a year. Because with the elimination of the inner and nervous crisis of the person, the effects of thinking about suicide also disappear.

Whereas, the annual suicide rate among Afghan women is much higher than that of men in Afghanistan, and according to previous estimates, about 80 percent of suicide attempts are related to women.

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