A 14-year-old girl from central Afghanistan has died due to severe burns, a local official said Monday, as questions were raised about whether she had set herself on fire to escape an arranged marriage.
"She was a victim of family violence," said General Mustafa Andarabi, the police chief of Ghor province.
It was not initially clear if the girl, named Zahra, was set on fire by her in-laws or if she did it herself.
On Saturday, she was taken to a clinic in Kabul, but it was too late, said Mohammad Saber Nasib, a physician. "She had third-degree burns, down to the muscles and bones."
According to Ghor's police chief, Zahra’s husband was involved in the incident. “He fled the house. But we have Zahra’s father in-law and mother in-law in custody," Andarabi said.
But Abdul Hay Khatibi, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said that Zahra had nodded in response when asked whether she had set herself on fire.
Self-immolation is a common way for Afghan women to escape a desperate situation.
Ruqia Naiel, a senator from Ghor province, said, “Zahra’s father complained to the provincial council and the provincial judiciary about his daughter being ill-treated in her husband's house, but no one listened to him."
According to her, the girl had been married when she was 12 and had been ill-treated since.