QURGHONTEPPA, Tajikistan -- A Tajik official says the high rate of self-immolation among women in southern Tajikistan is related in most cases to domestic violence perpetrated by men, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.
Suhrob Salomov, an Interior Ministry official in Khatlon Province, told RFE/RL that 108 cases of suicide and attempted suicide by women have been recorded in the province in 2010. He said 52 people have died as a result and tens of others have been injured.
Salomov added that at least 50 percent of the known cases of attempted suicide were related to domestic violence and violence against women.
In the latest incident, a woman in Khatlon Province, Hikoyet Faqirova, set herself and her children on fire on August 5. The three children died and Faqirova is in serious condition in a hospital with severe burns on 25 percent of her body.
Faqirova reportedly poured gasoline over herself and the children -- aged three, five, and eight years old -- after suspecting her husband of having an affair.
Rukhshona Shoimova, a psychologist working for the nongovernmental organization Ghamkhori (Taking Care), told RFE/RL that single mothers or women who have separated from their husbands are a high-risk group for suicide. She said Ghamkhori intentionally targets this group to attempt to prevent suicide attempts.
Salomov said that along with cases of domestic violence, other women attempt suicide after quarrels with neighbors or sometimes even after harsh criticism from parents or other relatives.
He added that 29 suicide attempts were related to psychological illness, six cases were related to difficult living conditions, and 52 cases were thought to be related to domestic violence.
Manzura Sharifova, director of a women's crisis center in Qurghonteppa, told RFE/RL that in many cases, domestic violence is suspected but that women do not want to admit they have been abused by their husbands or relatives because of Tajik society's taboo on domestic violence.
Salomov said that in response to these cases, provincial police recently created a department to deal specifically with domestic violence.
But Khatlon has just one police officer per 10,000 people, which drastically limits police officers' ability to have a substantial impact on the situation.
Salomov points out that this year, no criminal case of domestic violence or violence against a woman has been taken to court.