This is just sad. A story in the New York Times highlights on a strange trend occurring in Sinjar, a desolate stretch in the northwest corner of Iraq. There seems to be a growing epidemic of the local young women committing suicide after being forced into arranged marriages, often
with their relatives. Besides the war and increasing exposure to outside world, some are blaming the suicide trend on the influence of a Turkish drama called Forbidden Love.
One 16-year-old girl named Jenan Merza shot herself in the abdomen in an attempted suicide after being forced to marry her first cousin. She said, "I tried to kill myself. I didn't want to get married. I was forced to get engaged." Like many girls, Merza watches Forbidden Love and says of it, "I wish I had that life."
Merza's father blamed the soap opera for his daughter's suicide attempt, and can't understand why she can't just be happy, since such arrangements is deeply entrenched in their society:
I got married to my cousin. I wasn't in love with her, but we are here, living together. That's what happens here, we marry our relatives. I hope she will go back to him. His father is my brother."
However, her father did say that he won't force his daughter to go back to her husband, who lives right next door. The practice of such arranged marriages has been going on for centuries,
but it is speculated that globalization and the war exposing their
society to the outside
world has somehow made the local women react to the
tradition in new and tragic ways.
And there's another even darker problem that's part of this epidemic: honor killings covered up as suicides. Officials say that families sometimes kill a woman who has committed adultery or dared to marry outside their religion or class and call it a suicide.
Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any relief in sight for the women of Sinjar. With no mental health services available and being pressured to do something you don't want to, it's not at all surprising that many have resorted to killing themselves, since they're now stuck terrible position of knowing there is something more in the outside world but are powerless to get there or to change the rules in their own community.