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The BBC's David Chazan reports
"The researchers suggest that the inferior social status of women could aggravate feelings of low self-worth"
 real 28k

Saturday, 8 April, 2000, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
Bangladeshi women 'at risk of suicide'
Bangladesh poverty
Women face domestic and economic strains
Bangladeshi women are highly vulnerable to suicide and murder according to a recent study.

Bangladeshi and American researchers found that half of all unnatural deaths among women aged 10 to 50 were caused by suicide.

According to the study, published in the Lancet, women are vulnerable partly because they suffer from inferior social status.

The lower social status of women compared with men in countries such as Bangladesh may aggravate feelings of low self-worth and other psychological stresses

The Lancet
Another factor is the high illiteracy rate among women and their economic dependency on men, making it difficult for them to cope with pressure from husbands and relatives.

The study found that Bangladeshi women who are married are far more likely to commit suicide than single women.

The suicide rate was highest among married women in their 20s. The report suggests that this is because recently married women faced demands from husbands, including the payment of dowry, strained relations with their husbands' families and economic hardship while raising children.

Murder or suicide?

Poisoning was the most common method used by women to kill themselves, because of the availability of pesticides and insecticides, found in most Bangladeshi households.

Women's groups in Bangladesh says the cause of death may often be given as suicide, when in fact a woman has been murdered.

The study was carried out by the Bangladesh Institute for Research and Promotion of Essential and Reproductive Health and Technologies and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.


The report is the second study in less than six months to produce damning criticism of the treatment of women in Bangladesh.

Last October, researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said teenage girls who get pregnant in Bangladesh are extremely vulnerable to violence if the child is unwanted.

Bangladeshi girls aged 15 to 19 who get pregnant or who have recently given birth are nearly three times more likely to die from violence as women of the same age who were not pregnant, the report said.

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