Friday, December 21, 2007

Saudi women try suicide to escape social pressure

Segregated from men, banned from driving and facing restrictions on travel, work, and even study, many Saudi women attempt suicide to escape one of the world's strictest societies.

Saudi Arabia, a conservative Islamic state where clerics demand the seclusion of females, often has an unforgiving attitude to women who find themselves victim to male violence.
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A rare 2006 study of suicide survivors carried out by Salwa al-Khatib, a researcher at King Saud University, found that 96 cases involved women compared to four cases involving men.

She said the hospital where she works as a counsellor receives on average 11 suicide attempts by women each month.

"Women go through severe depression due to social pressure," Khatib said.

"The differentiation between males and females inside families contributes to growing pressure ... Men who are raised to be superior mostly look down on women. They develop abusive behaviour to express power over them."

Using light doses of medicine during daytime hours, many suicide attempts by women are clearly cries for help rather than serious attempts to end their lives, Khatib said.

"Many teenage girls in Saudi Arabia suffer from lack of communication with their parents. No one listens to their emotional, social or even educational problems," Khatib said.

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