THE BLOG

Twenty-year-old Woman Commits Suicide in Kurdistan

15/05/2013 13:16 BST | Updated 15/07/2013 10:12 BST

Two girls have committed suicide in the past month in a Kurdish village in the outskirts of Erbil city. Nisaan Jafar, aged just 20, ended her life on 30/04/2013. According to the local police, Nisaan suffered from "psychological illness" but the actual report from a psychologist seems to be non-existent.

Not long ago, Nisaan's sister also committed suicide. And in the same village, a 26-year old woman also committed suicide this month, reports Rudaw, a local news agency.

The actual facts are unknown since very little has been revealed about these incidents, which are too often kept hushed up. The real question is what are the actual causes of suicide among women in Kurdistan, and what is the Kurdistan Regional Government doing to prevent these wide scale cases.

Throughout winter, there were numerous, in fact too many, cases of women who just happened to accidently get burned while sleeping too close to the heater, which for reasons unknown to the public tipped over the victim. Cases like these are obviously honor-tainted, but that's one side that we are not hearing, and I suspect, we won't be hearing about for some time to come.

Women organizations, and other NGOs working in Kurdistan to promote social justice, and the welfare of women seem to be in a vacuum or asleep. Perhaps it's time they overlooked their fancy names, and started to work with villagers, but maybe the summer's heat will prove to be too much for their sensitive skins.

In a visit to the villages near Kazhnazan, in the outskirts of Erbil city, I met many women with a local activist Ashna Shareff. We talked to several women, but one particular incident comes to mind. At the time we were working on a campaign (needless to say, an unsuccessful one) to start a child benefit system in Kurdistan, similar to that of Europe. One of the women who was illiterate asked us to read the campaign signature letter to her, and afterwards she signed it.

Just before leaving, one of the younger women there, who did not have the opportunity to pursue higher education also signed the petition. Her mother said, "She's 20, and still not married" which highlighted the living cycle in villages. Get married, make babies, and find suitors for them. The cycle goes on, or rather has gone on for decades now but the troubling prospect of life for many women in rural areas needs immediate attention from NGOs and governmental institutions, who have been for the most part silent.

Since returning back to Kurdistan, I have reluctantly begun to hate what they call "journalism" here. With high hopes and dreams, I returned from England, with a law degree, to work as a researcher or an academic with an interest in Human rights, but despite the job opportunities being many for people who want to work in any and every sector, journalism is one of the sectors that I was most disappointed with. It isn't just the lack of professionalism that is rampant and the nuisance of having to read poorly constructed articles on "Kurdish news sites" but it's the arrogance of writers locally.

There is no sense of real investigative journalism, perhaps because there are far too few academic disciplines available that specialise in journalism, with a key interest in what is now considered as journalism globally. That could be the case, but another is the laziness of journalists who would much rather laze around the office than getting off their royal wheel chairs and actually meeting the person they are writing about. It's all about "an anonymous source" or the irritating "confidential sources" on topics that require no anonymity.

The numerous articles written about suicides in Kurdistan exemplify my anger with local journalists. There are no concentrated efforts to give a proper and informative reports about what leads so many women to commit suicide. Cases of suicide are neglected by the media, and it will require the masses to make an exerted effort in order to raise societal outrage over the lack of investigative follow-up on these cases.