Friday, December 10, 2010

Bibi Aisha Update

Bibi Aisha (with prosthetic nose)
(Image credit: Grossman Institute)

A number of my readers have asked about how Aisha is doing here in the States. Aisha is actually currently living in Brooklyn, under the care of Women for Afghan Women. (Their US office is based in Brooklyn.) While Aisha has been relieved of some of her stress by venturing to the US for reconstructive surgery, it was quietly announced last month that there would be a delay in Aisha's treatment. Aisha is currently participating in intensive psychotherapy for emotional issues related to her injuries (translation: PTSD). The Grossman Institute in Los Angeles felt that she needed this time, and the therapeutic services, before embarking on what they term "a series of invasive surgeries that she is potentially not yet prepared to handle."

On the justice front, it was announced earlier this week that Afghan police arrested Bibi Aisha's father-in-law, Sulaiman, when he ventured to the bazaar in Chora district, and out of the Taliban stronghold area in which Aisha was a child bride both abused and then mutilated by her Taliban fighter husband and his father. Salaiman (who goes as do many Afghans, by a single name) has reportedly confessed to participating in her mutilation. The police chased him on foot more than a quarter of a mile before apprehending him. Clearly, he has some concept of having erred somewhere... Mohammed Gul, the district police chief in Chora, revealed that there has been a fair amount of attention (translation: pressure) to apprehend those involved in the horrific mutilation of Aisha. He noted fifteen letters and warrants received for Sulaiman and his son, Aisha's erstwhile husband and principal abuser. The Afghan Interior Ministry reportedly took up the banner after receiving numerous complaints about Aisha's abuse from the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. And there was that little magazine cover, that garnered world-wide attention.

For those who don't remember my first post on Aisha, she and her younger sister were given to the family of Sulaiman as "baad", a feudal Afghani practice in which girls or women are given as marriage chattel, to settle a dispute between two families. The family receiving the girls for marriage can then rape them and beat them as much as they wish and the girls just have to take it. Because, that's what happens when daddy gets into a disagreement and people fight. You just have to bear it. Only Aisha didn't. She ran away. Unfortunately, when she was caught,  Sulaiman put a gun to her head and it was decreed that his son should cut off her nose and ears. Details General Himat, of the Oruzgan region where Aisha lived:

“Sulaiman then took her amputated nose and proudly showed it off around the village.”
~quoted in The New York Times

I know it will shock everyone to hear that the Taliban continue to deny their involvement in sanctioning Aisha's disfigurement. Sharia law does not proscribe the cutting off nose and/or ears for any crime. Some have even contended that Aisha is actually a girl by the name of Nazia, who was mutilated in 2007 by her husband. The Afghan authorities are not disputing the stated facts of Aisha's case however, and the arrest of her father-in-law appears to give credibility to the fact that at the very least her husband's family thought it was a fit punishment to visit on a 17 year old girl tired of being beaten, raped and otherwise abused. Irrespective of her real name, Aisha has suffered unimaginably at the hands of her husband's family. Baad can't get much worse, other than death, perhaps.

Luckily for her younger sister, Hajii Mohammed Zai, Aisha's father, has not yet turned over the 12 year old for consummation of her marriage.

One can only imagine the horror that awaits her if he does so.

© Bright Nepenthe, 2010

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