We know about the famous photograph of Sharbat Gula, the Afghan Girl, whose appearance on the cover page of National Geographic magazine had moved the world decades ago. Now there is another Afghan girl who appeared on the Time magazine’s cover of August 2010. The girl’s name is Aisha; her mutilated face on the cover of Time magazine provided yet another proof of Taliban’s atrocities against women in Afghanistan.
Aisha was married off when she was just 12 years old. Her in-laws and husband treated her like slaves, beat her up and abused her. Unable to cope with the torture, Aisha ran away from her in-laws house and reached her parents’ place. But the parents’ house could not provide her safety. There, at midnight, members of the Taliban dragged her out of the house and took her to an open space in the village for a “hearing”. Aisha pleaded that she ran away because her in-laws treated her badly but her pleas fell on deaf ears. The Taliban commander announced that she should be made an example in order to deter other girls from following Aisha’s footsteps (of running away from the wedded husband). The punishment was announced and Aisha’s husband and brother-in-law came forward to carry it out. Aisha’s brother-in-law pinned her down on the ground and her husband sliced her ears off. Afterward, he chopped her nose as well. Aisha fainted and the men left the scene.
Such terrible things are happening to the women under the Taliban rule. Women are not considered anything more than a machine that does household chores, provides sexual pleasure to the husband and makes babies. If this machine ever tries to think or feel anything —she is silenced by terror, threats, corporal punishment and even murder; which is not mourned even by relatives.
I could have written the above account in much more graphic details but my objective is not to entice anger or hatred in the readers because these emotions blind us and make us incapable of taking an effective action. I also don’t want readers (especially the feminist ones) to cry out reading the details of the plight of Aisha. Crying or rage will not do anything. Words, spoken or written, wont do anything. What we need to do is to first resolve at the personal levels that we will not inflict or tolerate atrocities on women who we know. This includes our spouse, relatives, friends, colleagues, neighbors and even acquaintances. If we all can do this —I am sure this world would become a much better place for women to live in. Once we have achieved this at the individual level —then we may go forward and do something for those who are unknown to us. All good deeds should begin at home.
The story of Aisha (now in United States known as Aesha Mohammadzai) was first published by the Daily Beast website in December 2009 (in that article, the website refer to her as Nadia). The photograph that was published on the summer 2010 issue of the Time magazine was taken by Jodi Bieber. This photograph won the World Press Photo of the Year Award in 2010.
Now a good news. Aisha got a prosthetic nose after going through a complicated surgery. This cover page of Time magazine also became controversial because of the caption on Aisha’s photograph. The captions reads “What happens if we leave Afghanistan”. I wonder why exactly the Time chose this caption that sounds more like propaganda on behalf of the US government! But whatever, there is no denying that the world needs to stand up against the Taliban and their oppressive rule.
What do you think of this photograph and the story behind it? Please comment and give your feedback as it helps me in writing better content for my readers. Thank you for reading and stay connected with my website as I will continue to bring stories on more iconic photographs for you.