By Pooya Stone
Women suffering from domestic violence are dying from suicide in the small village of Dishmok in Iran.
The remote area in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province has now become well known for its increased suicide rate for female domestic violence victims, most notably for the method chosen, which is self-immolation or setting oneself on fire.
One of the biggest reasons is that the women here are subjected to forced early marriages, with no ability to choose their own husbands. They are often married young; few girls making it beyond sixth-grade. Most of them end up getting pregnant young and having multiple children.
Male domestic abusers will find it easier to dominate a young girl, who didn’t get to finish school, has young children with him, and whose parents would not allow her to come home.
In villages like Dishmok, it is common for girls aged 10-13 to marry adult men without the marriage being registered. It is also worryingly common for 14-year-olds to be married off to men in their 60s for a small payment.
In 2017 alone, the Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Civil Registry Office reported that nine girls aged under 10 and 458 girls under 15 were married in this province, although that probably doesn’t include those married off with no registrations.
Former Iranian MP Tayebeh Siavoshi said that in 2019 in Dishmok, 24 women died from suicide and that 21 of them were married. There were also three women who survived, who were not included in this statistic. Of course, these should be considered minimums due to the stigma of suicide and mental health issues.
Those who survive, especially multiple suicide attempts, are forced back to their husbands’ homes; where the people who beat them, locking them in a room so they cannot escape.
Saheb Divan Moghadam, a psychologist working at the new Dishmok mental health center, said: “Between 2018 and 2019, 34 people took their own lives. They ranged in age from 16 to 23, and most of them were married women.”
Mohammad Mehdi Tondgoyan, Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs of the Ministry of Sports and Youth, said that in 2017, 4,992 died from suicide across Iran, with two-thirds of them being women.
Sociologist Salar Kasraei said: “In the last two decades, the suicide rate in Iran has changed. According to statistics, from 1982 to 2005, the figure has almost quadrupled, and among women, this figure has doubled.”