Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Afghan Wives, Self-Immolation

For many Afghan women, circumstance can lead to desperation. Forced marriages (for girls as young as 12), extreme poverty, family shame. Mental illness sometimes complicates the situation. New York Times reporter Alissa J. Rubin and photographer Lynsey Addario report on these women and their devastating solution: self-immolation. Setting oneself on fire is a common form of suicide in this part of Afghanistan.

Family members of the survivors are equally devastated. The mother of a teenage wife prays that her daughter does not die with her burns: “That would leave a scar of a thousand years on my heart.”

In October alone, seventy-five women arrived at the Herat Burn Hospital. According to Rubin:

It is shameful here to admit to troubles at home, and mental illness often goes undiagnosed or untreated. Ms. Zada, the hospital staff said, probably suffered from depression. The choices for Afghan women are extraordinarily restricted: Their family is their fate. There is little chance for education, little choice about whom a woman marries, no choice at all about her role in her own house. Her primary job is to serve her husband’s family. Outside that world, she is an outcast.

The Times sheds light on this disturbing trend. How might these Afghan women find options to setting themselves on fire to escape the entrapment of their daily lives?

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Filed under: afghanistan, global justice, human rights, women, , , , , , , , , , ,

Cyberbullying and Gay Suicide

Students at Rutgers protest after Clementi's suicide

Roommate issues, gay attitudes, and technology: a recipe for disaster?

The news earlier this week that Tyler Clementi committed suicide is a tragic one. Not only for Clementi’s wrangling with his sexuality, but because the Rutgers’ freshman’s thoughts leading up to his death were so readily accessible to the public: insensitive taunts on Twitter,  questioning of actions on a gay website, and, ultimately, Clementi’s final status update on Facebook.

According to the New York Times, both Clementi and his roommate Dharun Ravi expressed their thoughts about Clementi’s sexuality in various places on the internet:

On Sept. 19, Mr. Ravi messaged his Twitter followers that he had set up a webcam in his room and then watched from Ms. Wei’s room, adding that he saw Mr. Clementi “making out with a dude.”

The postings on the gay chat site last week, reported Wednesday on the Web site Gawker, appear to show Mr. Clementi’s reactions as he read Mr. Ravi’s posts about the camera, and the apparent disdain for his homosexuality.

“And so I feel like it was ‘look at what a fag my roommate is,’ ” he wrote on Sept. 21. “Other people have commented on his profile with things like ‘how did you manage to go back in there?’ and ‘are you ok?’ and the fact that the people he was with saw my making out with a guy as the scandal whereas I mean come on … he was SPYING ON ME … do they see something wrong with this?”

Is cyberbullying the root of this tragedy? Not enough education in respecting diversity? Or a combination of both?

Filed under: education, gay rights, technology, web 2.0, , , , , , , ,

Publications

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
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Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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