When Bibi Aisha's Taliban-connected in-laws cut off her nose and ears in a barbaric act of retribution for the "crime" of fleeing years of abuse, her story seized international attention and captured headlines worldwide. A visa for the U.S., appearances at glittery celebrity galas, and a series of host families soon followed. So did emotional outbursts for Aisha, and a fight to find a place she felt comfortable in a strange country where even the poorest people have access to things she had never known: power, water, and, most important, education.
In 2009 The Daily Beast first told the story of Bibi Aisha, a young woman given to her husband's family while she was still a child as "payment" to settle a family crime, a practice known as baad. After her maiming at the hands of her husband's family following her attempted escape, Aisha fled to her own relatives. Her father brought her to a U.S. military forward operating base not far from her home in southern Afghanistan's Uruzgan province. From there, the military evacuated her to a shelter in Kabul. Several months later her face appeared on the cover of Time magazine.
Three years later the young woman is rebuilding her life, and her face, in a new country and with a new family that is helping her along a path beset by setbacks, but also filled with love and some hope for the future. She spends her days on the Internet, watching Bollywood movies, listening to Afghan songs, and reading stories that haunt her. One of them: a piece she found on the Internet about Malala Yousafzai, the courageous 15-year-old campaigner for girls' education shot by the Taliban last month while sitting in her school van.