Chitral sees alarming increase in suicides among women January 7, 2018

.. by Zahiruddin

The tendency of committing suicide by young and unmarried girls has been on the rise in Chitral for the last couples of years.

Hardly a month passes when no incident of suicide by a girl is reported from any part of Chitral. The reasons of committing suicide by girls range from failure in examinations to trifle domestic altercation and marriage against their will.

A girl in Garam Chashma got her detailed marks certificate of matriculation examinations from her school and left for home but she never reached home because she jumped into the river to embrace death.

A teenage girl in Jughoor village jumped into the river because her father had decided her marriage in utter disregard of her choice and consent.

Reasons of committing suicide by girls range from failure in examinations to domestic altercation to marriage against their will

In another incident, an unmarried girl of teenage decided to vent her spleen on her brother, who had admonished her for quarreling with his wife.

As per social survey of a local civil society organisation, during the last five years, the average number of incidents of suicides among women and young girls has been estimated at 40 in a year. It means three cases in a month and one in a week.

About 68 per cent of the women, who committed suicide, were unmarried. It signifies a complex phenomenon. Most of them opted to jump into river to end their lives.

The spectra of factors leading to the gruesome end of the persons of fair sex, a number of reasons were quoted by the respondents during the survey conducted by the organisation that included the fast changing social values, forced marriage, stringent social norms, negligence by parents and strict tribal system.

Coupled with the reasons, the absence of any shelter home run by government or any organisation and the total absence of psychotherapy facility in the hospitals have been quoted as some of the potent factors.

Dr Hamza, who serves at a public sector hospital, says that depressive disorder in the youth folk has been found abnormally high in Chitral and any abrupt instigation acts as a catalyst that leads to suicide. He says that proper knowledge about the phenomenon can help to reduce the tendency.

“It is possible if early warning signs are traced and calculated which prop up as a result of bereavement. The process is, however, highly spontaneous and it takes sometimes a split of second for a bereaved person to take the step,” says Dr Hamza.

The physician says that the tendency can be reduced to lower degree by proper education. For this purpose, consultation facility must be made available in the major hospitals in the district, he adds.

Dr Inayatullah Faizi, former project manager of IUCN in Chitral, terms generation gap as a major factor, which leads to the strained relations between parents and their offspring. He says that in the prevailing situation, the two generations are poles apart in their outlooks.

He adds that misuse of mobile phones and other gadgets by the new generation creates nothing but complexities.

Imtiaz Ahmed, the former manger of Regional Women Empowerment Project of Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, says that economic and political empowerment of women can help mitigate the rising tendency of suicide.

He says that as per the findings of his organisation, the tendency of suicide among unmarried women is a social problem, which needs proper and scientific study on the basis of which solutions can be suggested to check it effectively.

Advocate Niaz A Niazi, the chairman of Human Rights Programme, a Chitral-based organisation, is of the strong conviction that more than half of the total incidents of suicides are farce and in reality they are murder cases — a sort of honour killing.

He says that even if an innocent girl is not murdered by her parents and other relatives, she is constrained to such dire straits that she finds no way but to commit suicide.

He says that police have always exhibited its slackness to unearth the real cause of the suicide cases and apprehend the culprit.

It has emboldened others to annihilate their daughters and sisters, who, they thought, bring bad name to their families.

Mr Niazi says that in Booni village, just two months ago, a married woman of 24 was said to have committed suicide by jumping into the river. When her body was retrieved from the water, he recalls, it was found that she was chopped to death before being thrown into the river and her husband confessed to the crime when interrogated by police.

Referring to another case, he says the body of an unmarried girl of Oveer village was thrown into the river after murdering her. He says that on the insistence of the human rights organisations, when her grave was exhumed, it was found that she had been killed by smashing her skull with hammer.

Mr Niazi says that most of the cases go untraced as police file the case after some preliminary and superficial investigations under Section 174 of CrPC.

A police officer says that the incumbent district police officer has been showing zero tolerance for such cases since his posting last year. He says that the DPO has taken three major steps to deal with the cases of suicide that include making police complainant in the case of suicide while in the past, her father, brother or any other relative used to be plaintiff.

The second step, he says, is that post-mortem of the dead body has been made mandatory while in the past the heirs of the deceased did not allow it which hampered investigation to unearth the real cause.

Thirdly, the persons found responsible for constraining the victim to commit suicide are booked under Sections 321 and 322 of PPC while in the past, such persons went scot-free.

The police officer says the DPO has also ordered to reinvestigate the suicide cases, which have taken place during the last one year and take the culprits to task.

He says that after steps being taken by police, the incidents of suicide will drop considerably as no one will dare to give the honour killing a name of suicide in future.

Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2018