Bibi Aisha

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Not to be confused with Bibi Ayesha or Asia Bibi.
Aisha on the cover of Time
The image of Aisha was shown at a World Press Photo presentation in 2011.

Bibi Aisha (Pashto: بی بی عایشه‎; Bibi is a term of respect meaning "Lady"; born Aisha Mohammadzai,[citation needed] legal name in the United States: Aesha Mohammadzai) is an Afghan woman whose mutilated face appeared on the cover of Time magazine in summer 2010. Her story first appeared in the Daily Beast in December 2009, which prompted doctors to write in offering to help her for free. The Grossman Burn Foundation in California pledged to perform reconstructive surgery and began organizing for her visa in the early spring of 2010. Diane Sawyer of ABC News covered her ordeal in March 2010.


In a practice known as baad, Aisha's father promised her to a Taliban fighter when she was 12 years old as compensation for a killing that a member of her family had committed. She was married at 14 and allegedly subjected to abuse. At 18 she fled the abuse but was caught by police, jailed, and returned to her family. Her father returned her to her in-laws. To take revenge on her escape, her father-in-law, husband, and three other family members took Aisha into the mountains, cut off her nose and her ears, and left her to die.[1] Aisha was later rescued by aid workers and the U.S. military. Some sources disputed the role of any members of the Taliban in her mutilation.[2][3]

Appearance on Time Magazine[edit]

Aisha was featured on the August 2010 cover of Time magazine and in a corresponding article, "Afghan Women and the Return of the Taliban."[4] The cover image generated enormous controversy.[5] The image and the accompanying cover title, "What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan," fueled debate about the merits of the Afghan War.[6]

The photo was taken by the South African photographer Jodi Bieber and was awarded the World Press Photo Award for 2010.[7] The image of Aisha is sometimes compared to the 'Afghan Girl' photograph of Sharbat Gula taken by Steve McCurry.[8]

Present day[edit]

Shortly after Time's cover ran, Aisha was flown to the United States to receive free reconstructive surgery.[5] In May 2012, ran an article about Aisha's recent life. Since coming to the United States in August 2010, surgeons concluded that she is mentally incompetent to handle the patient responsibilities in the surgical recovery regimen. Her psychologist, Shiphra Bakhchi, diagnosed her with borderline personality disorder. She was taken in by the Women for Afghan Women shelter in Queens, New York, but she caused problems for the shelter and was subsequently moved to a family's house in Maryland. She has never held a job but sometimes made beads which she sold in local salons. She studies English and mathematics and aspires to be a police officer to help and protect women and children.[9][10]

The May 2012 CNN article by Jessica Ravitz explored the challenges faced by Aisha during her integration into a globalized world. "[S]he's been passed around by well-meaning strangers, showcased like a star and shielded like a fragile child," Ravitz reports.[9]

See also[edit]

  • Sahar Gul, Afghan teenager abused by in-laws


  1. ^ Bates, Karen Grigsby (13 October 2010). "Bibi Aisha, Disfigured Afghan Woman Featured On 'Time' Cover, Visits U.S.". National Public Radio blog: The Two-Way. Archived from the original on 12 November 2010. Retrieved 27 November 2010. 
  2. ^ Ann Jones, 'Afghan Women Have Already Been Abandoned', The Nation (12 August 2010).
  3. ^ Ahmad Omed Khpalwak, 'Taliban Not Responsible for Cutting Aisha's Nose, Ear', Uruknet (6 December 2010).
  4. ^ Baker, Aryn (29 July 2010). "Afghan Women and the Return of the Taliban". Time (magazine). Archived from the original on 2010-08-16. Retrieved 27 November 2010. 
  5. ^ a b "Disfigured Afghan on Cover of Time Heads to US". AOL News. 5 August 2010. Archived from the original on 22 October 2010. Retrieved 27 November 2010. 
  6. ^ Nordland, Ron (4 August 2010). "Portrait of Pain Ignites Debate Over Afghan War". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 November 2010. 
  7. ^ Webb, Sara (11 February 2011). "Top press award for photo of disfigured Afghan woman". Reuters. Retrieved 11 February 2011. 
  8. ^ Rubin, Elizabeth (December 2010). "Veiled Rebellion". National Geographic Magazine. Archived from the original on 6 December 2010. Retrieved 27 November 2010. 
  9. ^ a b "Saving Aesha". CNN. 
  10. ^ Paul Toohey Brave Girl with a Tortured Soul The Advertiser 26 May 2012, pp. 40–41.

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