Even as there were growing signs that negotiations would soon resume between the Taliban and the Hamid Karzai government in Afghanistan, a stark reminder of the Taliban’s extreme views on women’s rights resurfaced this week as Bibi Aisha (19), whose nose and ears had been cut off under Taliban sanction, proudly revealed a prosthetic nose in Los Angeles.
Ms. Aisha, whose controversial cover photograph in Time magazine shocked audiences worldwide in July, travelled to the United States following her contact with Time, and in addition to receiving reconstructive surgery this week, she was also given the Enduring Heart award by the Grossman Burn Foundation, the charity that had supported her treatment.
Maria Shriver, wife of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California, presented the award to Ms. Aisha. At the event Ms Shriver said, “This is the first Enduring Heart award given to a woman whose heart endures and who shows us all what it means to have love and to be the enduring heart,” to which Ms. Aisha responded, “Thank you so much”.”
Severely abused and attacked
When she was only 12 years old, Ms. Aisha was said to have been promised in marriage to a Taliban fighter by her father, and when she was 14 she was sent to live with him. In addition to being abused and treated harshly, for example, being “forced to sleep with the animals”, her husband and his brother were said to have attacked her and cut off her nose and ears as she was held down as punishment for having fled the home.
Following the attack, which was said to have occurred “as other Taliban militants watched”, she said in an interview with CNN, “I passed out… In the middle of the night it felt like there was cold water in my nose…” which in fact was her own blood. There was “so much of it, [that] I couldn’t even see…”, she had said.
While she said that she had been left on the mountainside to die, she survived and managed to reach her grandfather’s home. From there she was taken to a U.S. military medical centre and finally brought to the U.S..
While Time’s cover story on Ms. Aisha drew attention to the Taliban’s views on women in society, some media reports said that critics argued that the magazine was “using emotional blackmail and gender politics to justify continued U.S. involvement in Afghanistan”.