Monday, January 17, 2011

91: The Self Empowered-Woman: Bibi Aisha Update

Dear Followers,

Back in August (Blog #76) you learned about the tragic story of an 18-year-old Afghan woman who had been disfigured by her angry husband and his vengeful family. Bibi Aisha had been the victim of a "Baad," which is a tribal custom of using young daughters to settle disputes between angry opponents.

When she was a little girl, Bibi Aisha's mother died, and her father (Hajji Muhommed Zai) offered Aisha and her younger sister as "compensation" to a family whom he had dishonored. But when Aisha could no longer tolerate the abuse her "husband's" family (Sulaiman) dished out, she ran away. Her husband, his father and brother, tracked her down, took her to a mountain side, cut off both of her ears as well as her nose, and left her to bleed to death.

Aisha somehow made her way to a women's refugee camp run by Women for Afghan Women. Eventually, Aisha was flown to America where the Grossman Burn Foundation in California planned to donate reconstructive plastic surgery on the now-20-year-old refugee.

Her story, however, has become more complicated because Afghan authorities have arrested her father-in-law (officers had to chase him on foot for over a mile) after he took her amputated nose and proudly showed it off at the village market. Now Afghan authorities (and Aisha's father) want her to return to Kandahar and testify at the court proceedings.

Meanwhile, Aisha's operation has been postponed because physicians feel that she is emotionally unprepared to deal with surgery. The harsh reality is that Aisha has been abused physically and emotionally for most of her life, and continues to suffer the after-effects of that harsh treatment. She continues to suffer from seizure-like episodes that appear to include flashbacks, and cause her to pull at her hair and cry. She has been moved among host families, staff, and volunteers in an attempt to help her adapt to her new reality. The girl who grew up without electricity or indoor plumbing, and never attended school, is now living on the East Coast and adapting to life in America.

Today, Aisha uses a cell phone, sends text messages, watches YouTube and is using the Internet to teach herself English. She uses supplies purchased at a local Michael's craft store to create jewelry and has been given a prosthetic nose (which she applies herself with a Q-Tip dipped in glue)created by Dr. Stefan Knauss. In October, she attended a fund raiser for the Grossman Burn Foundation and met former First Lady Laura Bush and Maria Shriver.

If you wish to help Aisha (and others like her) log on to

Looking forward to your comments...

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for posting an update on Aisha. She is a very brave young woman and I wish her and the many like her in Afghanistan all the best.