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'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.
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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