Wednesday, August 24, 2016


'Dark Flowers' Sheds Light On Afghan Self-Immolations

A screengrab of one of the women who appears in David Belluz's Dark Flowers -- The Story of Self-Immolation in Afghanistan.
A screengrab of one of the women who appears in David Belluz's Dark Flowers -- The Story of Self-Immolation in Afghanistan.
In the same week in which Human Rights Watch has sharply criticized Afghanistan's authorities for punishing women who flee domestic violence, has posted a video that aims to raise awareness about the abuse of women in the South Asian country.

Directed by photojournalist David Belluz and made with the help of the International Medical Corps and a local NGO, "Dark Flowers -- The Story of Self-Immolation in Afghanistan" presents the tales of Afghan women from across the country who suffered such horrendous abuse at the hands of their husbands that they felt driven to douse themselves in gasoline and light a match.

The film's producers say more than 100 women in Afghanistan attempt suicide every year by setting themselves on fire, usually after suffering years of physical and mental abuse at the hands of their husbands and in-laws.

Unlike the film's protagonists, many of these women don't survive.

"The main reason [for women's self-immolations] is that all doors that lead to hope are closed to them," says Selay Ghafar, the director of Humanitarian Assistance for Women and Children of Afghanistan (HAWCA), which co-produced the film. "They think the only solution open to their problems is to end their lives by burning themselves."

HAWCA is currently organizing screenings of Dark Flowers throughout Afghanistan with other NGOs and women's associations in the hope that it might highlight the issue of domestic abuse inside the country.

They also hope it might encourage women suffering from domestic abuse to seek help before their situation becomes so unbearable that they take drastic action.

WATCH: Dark Flowers -- The Story of Self-Immolation in Afghanistan (contains graphic images)

Dark Flowers - The Story of Self Immolation In Afghanistan from David Belluz on Vimeo.

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Comment Sorting
by: b.j. murphy-bridge from: canada
March 29, 2012 21:02
I am not sure comment will be posted but if so and one having watched this devastating documentary says to themselves
' what on earth can I do to help these women ? ' please click on the following link :
for $10.00 Canadian dollars a month you can adopt a student in Kandahar to learn English or $25.00 for more advanced courses. The school project Afghan-Canadian Community Center was founded by an Afghan gentleman .
In Response

by: David Belluz from: Kabul
March 30, 2012 18:07
You are absolutely right! Education will make a difference. And I can tell you that the ACCC is a great school - I know the founder of this school (in fact, I used to teach English at the ACCC) and he is doing an amazing job running the ACCC for boys and girls in one of the most dangerous cities in Afghanistan. Please support him! Please support a student!!
In Response

by: Barbara Murphy-Bridge from: Canada
March 30, 2012 21:27
It is going on 3 years since I first sponsored a student at ACCC in Kandahar . Both female, but many men also attend ACCC. My student for over a year is a 31 year old mother with 4 children ranging in ages from 13 to 9 and she is a delight ! We are on Skype every Wednesday and Saturday Kandahar to Nova Scotia for English lessons and I can't stress too much how totally satisfying it is to be connected to just an ordinary housewife in Afghanistan . Her husband also supports their 13 year old daughter attending a class there as well . We can't lose hope.
In Response

by: David from: Kabul
March 31, 2012 04:11
Barbara - this is really great of you! Thank you for helping this woman. Really great stuff!! And I can tell you the students who talk and interact with people like you in Canada really love it!! They find more strength and hope with every conversation. They simply radiate when they talk about it - which they did when I visited them in November 2011.

by: Bill Webb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
March 29, 2012 21:54
The men of Afghanistan should be ashamed of the way they make life miserable for their women. How could someone sell their daughters into sexual slavery. And our soldiers are over there fighting for these people?
In Response

by: dfghjklkjhgfd
March 30, 2012 20:38
Cuz they need monies and they wanted a son instead.
No, the soldiers are not fighting for them, these people that do the bad things are not being fraught for.
In Response

by: Bill Webb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
March 31, 2012 02:18
The trafficing of children for sexual exploitation, cultivating opium poppies, or manufacturing or sellling herion are offences that would be met with prison terms in most civilized countries. Afghanistan doesn't have enough police or prisons to deal with all of these criminals. They don't even want to try. They have been breeding a society of criminals for centuries.
In Response

by: David from: Kabul
March 31, 2012 04:16
This is very true, unfortunately. Yes, they do need money so they arrange marriages with another family so that it costs them less to buy their sons new brides. Poverty and lack of education in Afghanistan is preserving very old practices that should be fading away, but sadly, this is not the case.
In Response

by: David Belluz from: Kabul
March 31, 2012 04:22
Bill - I can assure you that the men and women fighting in Afghanistan are not fighting for these Afghan men. I have done 4 embeds with the Marines and the 101st Airborne in Helmand and Kandahar and I can tell you that these soldiers are fighting for a better Afghanistan where women have more rights and freedoms. But this is not an easy fight.....
In Response

by: AJ from: Phoenix, AZ
March 31, 2012 18:26
Bill, I understand where you're coming from, but your comments are simply naive and in
essence ignorant (not trying to be offensive!).

You live in a totally different world here in US and shouldn't be judging "Afghan Men" with
your American lenses. One day try to "exist" in their shoes and you'll get the point. "Shame" is not part of their daily worries when you know you can
be killed any minute. My heart goes to all the children and women and I praise all people
who are currently serving there to help this country establish a "government".

Before you start pointing fingers, we should go back in history and start with England,
USSR, United States, and other clandestine groups who only care about "SELF-INTEREST"

Afghanistan could have been a prospering country and society, but too many outside players simply
"polluted the waters".....

Divide and conquer.

by: Aria from: Portland
April 22, 2012 07:10
My heart goes out to the women. Most of the women were from Herat. There are a lot of organizations, but sometimes the government stops them and is harsh with the NGOs. I know orphanages and schools that are legit and help boys and girls with education. However I'd like to know how to educate the villagers who are selling their girls or forcing them to marry. Some marry them off to a drug lord.

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