2004 Photo Contest, Contemporary Issues, 1st prize

Stephanie Sinclair

Corbis for Marie Claire

30 August, 2003

Marzia (15), has her burns cleaned at the Herat Public Hospital. Terrified at the prospect of her husband's wrath after she short-circuited the television he had been saving for, she set fire to herself. Although no statistics are kept on female self-immolation, staff at the hospital estimate that they treated between 300 and 400 women with self-inflicted burns between November 2001 and February 2003. The suicide attempts make use of the kerosene used for cookers. Medical officers say that there were almost no similar cases under the Taliban regime, and some attribute the increase to a growing frustration as Western culture infiltrates Afghanistan, yet the position of women in society remains much the same.

About the photographer

Stephanie Sinclair

After university, Sinclair worked for the Chicago Tribune, which sent her to cover the lead up to the war in Iraq. She later moved to the Middle East covering the region for six ...

This image is collected in