According to the recent data provided by the Pakistan Journal of Criminology, the women of Chitral have convinced themselves that their only way out through issues including domestic violence, academic failure, and familial pressure for marriage is suicide.
This study explores suicides among youth in district Chitral, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Data collected through in-depth interviews, case histories of the victims and official statistics are analyzed using Durkheim‟s theory of suicide and existing literature.
The study argues that the traditional culture of Chitral is subjected to drastic social change in a very short time. Youths are the main agents of change. The social change has made youths aware of their fundamental rights; however, their modern aspirations are frustrated by centuries-old traditions. Modernism has entered but in a hybrid form.
The culture, traditions and festivals which once used to give socio-cultural identity to the individuals turn weak and so do the bonds and the meanings necessary for keeping individuals into a cohesive whole. The culture is in a state where traditional norms tend to disappear yet are not fully replaced by the new ones, what could be called anomie.
The mind has become split between tradition and modernity creating uncertainty regarding how to live a balanced life which has increased vulnerability towards suicide.
Unfortunately, a total of 176 suicides were recorded in the Chitral region between 2013 and 2019; 58% of them (102) were women compared to men. as per the results of the study “Rising Trend of Suicides among Youth in Chitral: A Sociological Analysis” by instructors Noor Sanauddin, Dr. Imran Sajid, and Zafar Ahmad of the Jehanzeb College Swat.
Moreover, the study reveals that the majority of the women who committed suicide lie between the ages of 15-30 (144/176 cases). On the other hand, 16 of the deceased men were between the ages of 30-45.
The study also mentions that there are many factors in play that have convinced Chirtali women to take such steps, the burden of raising children during the inflation, academic failure of children, and forced marriage are just a few of the reasons.
The study reads:
A local intellectual said congratulating those who gain success in the job market or in academia is mandatory here. The local media and the social media glorify the achievers as the proud Chitrali (Fakhr-i-Chitral)
A young boy, who had attempted suicide added that ‘too much’ expectation had resulted in his academic failure and ultimately led him to attempt suicide. On one occasion, six female students committed suicide less than a week after exam results were declared,” it noted. Besides, it said that youths were also committing suicide as a protest or an act of revenge.
Researcher Zafar Ahmed told a local publication that he and other researchers analysed suicide cases in Chitral in light of French sociologist Emile Durkheim’s Theory of Suicide. He said the study argued that the traditional culture of Chitral was subjected to drastic social change in a very short time.
Mr Ahmed said the social change had made youth aware of their rights but their aspirations from the current modern times were thwarted by centuries-old local traditions.
Culture, traditions and festivals, which once used to give socio-cultural identity to the individuals, have grown weak and so do the bonds and the meanings necessary for keeping individuals into a cohesive whole. The culture is in a state, where traditional norms tend to disappear yet are not fully replaced by the new ones, what could be called anomie. The mind has become split between tradition and modernity creating uncertainty regarding how to live a balanced life which has increased vulnerability towards suicide.
The study said the sympathetic response of the community towards the victims, portraying them as the oppressed, condemning the potential perpetrators, surrendering to the demands of suicide survivors and, of course, the cultural unacceptability of homicide was creating a situation where anger internalised by the youths was expressed in the form of suicide.
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