They’d rather die: brief lives of the Afghan slave wives
Date: Sunday, November 12 2006
THE first thing one notices about 16-year-old Gul Zam is her eyes, pretty and dark yet as watchful as a hunted animal’s. But then the scarf covering her head shifts slightly, exposing a livid red scar on her neck. The hands that play nervously in her lap are ridged with pink burns that reach up her arms, across her chest and down her legs.
Three months ago Gul Zam poured petrol over her body and set herself alight. To her it was the only way out of a marriage so abusive that her husband Abdul had beaten her until her clothes were soaked in blood.
“I felt all other ways were blocked,” she whispered. “My husband and his family treated me like a slave. But I could not go back to my family because of the shame that would bring. So I crawled into the yard, poured a can of petrol over me and lit a match.”
Five years after the Taliban were ousted from Kabul, the number of Afghan women setting fire to themselves because they cannot bear their lives has risen dramatically.