The Huffington Post, August 29, 2010

Is Time’s Aisha Story Fake?

Nazia said her husband first shaved her head, and cut her nose and ears with a sharp knife and beat her until she was unconscious.

Abdulhadi Hairan

In July this year, Time magazine published on its cover page the photo of an Afghan woman whose nose was cut off; the title bellowed: 'What happens if we leave Afghanistan (,8599,2007238,00.html ).'

Aisha Nazia
Nazia (left) was mutiliated by her husband about 3 years ago. Now known as Aisha (right) she shocked the world on the Time Magazine cover

According to the Time story, the woman, identified as Aisha, had run away, after which a Taliban court ordered her nose and ears mutilated in the southern Uruzgan province.

Before the Time story, CNN also published a similar story in March this year, naming the woman as 'Bibi Aisha,' and reporting that her nose and ears were cut off by the Taliban. (Read that report and see the photo here ( ))

After reading both the stories, and having a close look at the photos, I must conclude that the Taliban story of cutting off the woman's nose and ears as told by CNN and Time is false. The reason behind this conclusion is that I had myself reported this incident in December 2007.

The incident took place in December 2007, just before Eid ul Adha, a muslim ritual of sacrifice. Aisha or Bibi Aisha was at that time Nazia. We found her in a hospital in Qalat, the center of southern Zabul province. She and the police told us that she was beaten by her husband, an old man who had already killed his first wife.

Nazia said her husband first shaved her head, and cut her nose and ears with a sharp knife and beat her until she was unconscious. The husband then fled and the neighbors took her to the hospital. I had posted that story on a blog site with her only photos, which were later posted on many other sites that helped attract NGO attention and to her being taken to Kabul for better treatment. See that blog post and Nazia's first photos, which were taken just a few days after the incident, here ( ). (Please don't mind the poor English, I had just started learning English at that time).

The BBC Pashto website also published a story about Nazia. The BBC Pashto report at that time, which can be accessed on this link, says ( ): (translated from Pashto) 'Several women in Afghanistan's Zabul province have demanded for the trial of a man who cut off his wife's ears and nose.'

The BBC report further mentions that the couple was originally living in Paktia and had been shifted to Kandahar province. The Time and CNN stories, however, takes her from Uruzgan to Kandahar.

All these accounts and the photos prove that Aisha and Nazia is the same woman and that this is a domestic problem which prevails widely in the Afghan society. There is a strong need to work for reducing domestic violence instead of making fake stories by the well-established media organizations.

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