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Maimed Afghan Woman a Reminder of What's at Stake

Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy
August 17, 2010


The story of a young woman maimed by the Taliban has captured the nation's attention. Her name is Bibi Aisha, and her nose and ears were cut off by her husband and his family as punishment for the crime of attempting to escape a life of domestic battery and abuse.

The shocking photo of this young survivor occupies the cover of a recent Time magazine. The discussion about her story--and her image--has ricocheted far beyond American newsstands, igniting a debate among bloggers, TV anchors and print reporters about what her story "means" for the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan nearly a decade after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

I met and wrote about Aisha last December for The Daily Beast. It is worth adding a few points to the discussion led by those who charge Time with publishing pro-war propaganda.

The U.S. military cleaned this young woman's wounds, offered her a haven for weeks and got her to a shelter. The young woman's father brought her to the local U.S. military Forward Operating Base because he trusted them to provide his daughter with the care she needed.

I have interviewed dozens of women over the past several years who, with government help, found their way to shelters and family crisis centers that did not exist before 2001. These women, many of whom have endured burnings, beatings and electrocutions at the hands of their spouses, now find safe haven in homes created by women for women and funded by the international community.

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