Is TIME’s Afghan “cover girl” really a victim of mutilation by the Taleban?


TIME: What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan (story)

BOING BOING: What Still Happened Despite 10 Years of Occupying Afghanistan (story)

ZERO ANTHRO: What Happens When We Don’t Fix Problems at Home (story)

The August 9th TIME magazine cover story is about a young Afghan woman whose nose and ears have been allegedly “mutilated” by the Taleban. The story has generated widespread self-serving moral indignation and self-righteous clamor in the U.S. propaganda machine supporting the occupation of Afghanistan run by the Israeli-American weapon-making industry. The American culture cleansing project in Afghanistan must be in need of a booster shot from the radical feminist forces that so fervently collaborated with the American war machine in initiating this racist imperial enterprise in 2001. Perhaps the flaunting of this fictitious story is a desperate attempt by the Obama war regime to offset the steep decline of support for this murderous program against unarmed and helpless pre-industrial Afghanistan.  Let us recall the production of the picture of the frightened green-eyed Afghan girl on the cover of the National Geographic magazine to justify the United States sponsorship of local anti-government terrorist gangs who currently host the American occupation of Afghanistan.

TIME’s story does not provide its readers with any specific or credible factual text and context about what has really caused the deformity in this young woman’s face. Like much fiction that has been produced in the shadow of the American war machine in Afghanistan, this “story” appears to be a string of hearings and imaginings about women’s life in Afghanistan put together by Aryn Baker and Jodi Bieber, two young American journalists who probably first encountered Afghanistan in the pages of “the kite runner”. Having the readers see the reporters’ pictures (p. 4) in a “Kabul kite shop” speaks to the compelling impact of the untruths about life in Kabul in that “bestseller” book. What is the relationship of kites to a story about a mutilated nose? TIME’s story by Baker and Bieber has no truth value. Let us have a closer look at some of the cultural content and ethnographic claims in this fabricated telltale.

The narrative in which the Taleban single out this young woman for ears and nose mutilation at the instigation of her husband cannot be credible when exposed to the spatial, temporal, and cultural framework provided by the reporters.  First, Urozgan province is located in central Afghanistan not “southern” Afghanistan. And if the alleged mutilation took place in central or northern Urozgan, TIME’s tale becomes even less credible for these parts of Urozgan are home to non-Paxtuns, especially Hazaras. What is the victim’s ethnic background? Even if the agency of this “mutilation” were the Taleban, why would they devote this amount of precious human resources in a hostile area to the personal disenchantment of a single Taleb foot soldier with his runaway wife, Aisha? This does not make tactical or strategic sense.

The Taleban dragged Aisha “to a mountain clearing near her village” where “[s]hivering in the cold  air and blinded by the flashlights trained on her by her husband’s family, she faced her spouse and accuser…and men moved to deliver her punishment. Aisha’s brother-in-law held her down while her husband pulled out a knife. First he sliced off her ears. Then he started on her nose. Aisha passed out from her pain but awoke soon after, choking on her own blood. The men had left her on the mountaintop to die” (pp. 20-22).  If the men wanted Aisha to die, why did they not kill her on the spot, on the mountain? Why give her a chance to live? Why risk her potential recovery and/or rescue?

To receive her punishment, why would Aisha have to be dragged to the mountain clearing (or is it a “mountainside”)?  Where is this mountain clearing or side located in Urozgan? However, it must be at a distance from the village. And if TIME’s narrative is valid, the mutilation is a public affair with the husband, his family, and Taleban officials present. Thus, there are witnesses to the mutilation of Aisha’s nose and ears.  These witness, especially members of her husband’s family, can be located. Did Aisha “pass out” from “pain” or loss of blood? How does a victim whose ears and nose have been mutilated and is choking on her own blood, and left alone “on the mountainside to die” survive such virtually fatal injuries? The human face is heavily irrigated with blood. I am not a medical doctor, but based on common sense, it would not take more than a few minutes of suffering heavy blood loss from open veins around the nose and ears to become fatal? How does a rural 19 year girl in such perilous medical condition, bleeding from open veins around her nose and ears, manage to move from a mountainside in remote Urozgan to a “shelter” in downtown Kabul hundreds of miles away? “A few months after Aisha arrived at the shelter, her father tried to bring her home with promises that he would find her a new husband. Aisha refused to leave. In rural areas, a family that finds itself shamed by a daughter sometimes sells her into slavery, or worse, subjects her to a so-called honor killing—murder under the guise of saving the family’s name” (p. 26). Now, what are the prospects (or practical feasibility) for marriage of a woman who has her ears and nose mutilated for having dishonored her own family, husband, and in-laws in patriarchal Afghanistan or for that matter in patricentric United States? What would be the market value of Aisha’s labor? What kind of labor could a severely mutilated woman like this produce as a slave? Only total ignorance of the Afghan cultural plane and complete disregard for the intelligence of the audience by the American popular media would allow such fabricated prattle to see the light of public print.

Aisha’s disposition could be congenital. It could be caused by a bacterial or viral infection such as cancer, a malady not rare in Afghanistan among both men and women.  Or it could be related to an injury caused by firearms or explosives. Harelips and other deformities in the mandible, although rare, occur in the population of Afghanistan. Incidents of human body deformities in Afghanistan have steadily increased with the expanding military interference of the United States going back to the 1980s. These incidents have soared since 2001 with the American occupation and experimentation with weapon systems designed for “population centered wars” in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The non-Paxtun Northern Alliance warlords and their inner circles are the only Afghans that pray and beg for the American military presence in Afghanistan. It was these anti-Paxtun American trained and subsidized terrorist gangs who scouted and pimped for the American occupation of Afghanistan. And it is the Northern Alliance that opposes a political solution in Afghanistan because any such solution would remove them from power and expose and punish their criminal deeds.  Amrullah Saleh, a known psychopath and a leading member of this criminal gang who headed Afghanistan’s intelligence services, recently expatiated: “I have killed many of them (Taleban) with pride”, killing “them is part of my blood” (Lara Logan interview on “60 Mintes”, August 1, 2010). The informants for TIME’s reporters of this story are the female dependents of the Northern Alliance criminal clique one of whom is credited with this rabid hateful lie “I go running in the stadium where the Taliban used to play football with women’s heads” (p. 24). This woman is pictured standing in Kabul stadium with three Kabuli teenagers in the background clearly running-in-place! There is not a shred of evidence for a football game played with human heads anywhere at any time in Afghanistan. TIME magazine has truly stooped to the lowest standards in journalism. During the 1990s the Kabul stadium was used once for the public execution of a woman found guilty of violating a Taleban decree.

The American intimate love affair during the past three decades with the various gangs of terrorists including Al-Qaeda, Hezb-e Islami, Northern Alliance, and sporadically the early manifestation of the Taleban movement during the 1990s has inflicted irreparable damage on the political, economic, and security prospects of Afghanistan. The ethnic and sectarian divisions caused by the American military operations and criminal deeds in South Asia has brought the frail state structure of Afghanistan to the verge of total collapse. It has destabilized the whole region. Tens of thousands of innocent and helpless Afghans have been slaughtered by the American Zionist-controlled killing machine. These are war crimes and crimes against humanity for which history will condemn its perpetrators.

On an ethnographic level, the manipulation of the body of the subject human population by the state has historical roots in several culture areas including Europe, the Middle East and South Asia. To this day in the popular lore of non-Paxtun areas of Afghanistan (especially among the Farsi-speaking population) a person, male or female, who compromises the interests and standards of the larger community, is symbolically labeled “beeni borida” (Farsi, one whose nose has been cut, one who has lost his nose, i. e. one who has lost her/his honor, a person without honor). The equivalent of this linguistic construct and its cultural content does not exist among Paxtuns.

However, no matter the untruths and distortions from which TIME’s August 9th cover story is concocted, we need a proper comparative cultural framework for the understanding of the abuse of human body including the practice of mutilation of body parts. An informed glance at global ethnographic realities connects such practices with a relation of power called patriarchy—male domination of society. As a system of ideas and practices patriarchy “is a threat to public health everywhere” (Laura Nader, Anthropology News, September 2006, p. 7) including Afghanistan and the United States. In principle the socio-cultural ingredients involved in the mutilation of the human body in Afghanistan are not different than the socio-cultural forces that impose industrial “vaginal rejuvenation”, “pussy tightening” (JoAnn Wypijewski, The Nation, 9/28/2009, p. 8), and breast enhancement in Euro-America. In no other culturally constructed space are women, womanhood, and femininity so universally abused, exploited, demeaned, and vulgarized than in the Euro-American industry of internet pornography—the biggest money making enterprise in cyberspace.  Comparative studies reveal that American domestic violence is approximately 25%–about the same as in Syria and Bolivia (Nader 2006:7). The extensive system of shelters for abused women throughout the United States is symptomatic of a widely practiced tradition of physical and verbal abuse of women by men that is qualitatively not different than the abuse of women by men  elsewhere in the world.

TIME, you are a beeni borida!

_________

Addendum by Max Forte:

[“In 2005, 1,181 women were murdered by an intimate partner. That’s an average of three women every day. Of all the women murdered in the U.S., about one-third were killed by an intimate partner” (source). 17.6 % of women in the United States have survived a completed or attempted rape. Of these, 21.6% were younger than age 12 when they were first raped, and 32.4% were between the ages of 12 and 17. 64% of women who reported being raped, physically assaulted, and/or stalked since age 18 were victimized by a current or former husband, cohabiting partner, boyfriend, or date. Only about half of domestic violence incidents are reported to police. The National College Women Sexual Victimization Study estimated that between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 college women experience completed or attempted rape during their college years. One out of every six American women have been the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. Factoring in unreported rapes, about 5% – one out of twenty – of rapists will ever spend a day in jail. 19 out of 20 will walk free. The costs of intimate partner violence against women exceed an estimated $5.8 billion. These costs include nearly $4.1 billion in the direct costs of medical care and mental health care and nearly $1.8 billion in the indirect costs of lost productivity and present value of lifetime earnings. A University of Pennsylvania research study found that domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to low-income, inner-city Philadelphia women between the ages of 15 to 44 – more common than automobile accidents, mugging and rapes combined. In this study domestic violence included injuries caused by street crime  (see sources).]

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38 thoughts on “Is TIME’s Afghan “cover girl” really a victim of mutilation by the Taleban?

  1. It is obvious that these fairy tales are designed to dehumanize the Taliban: mutilation and playing football with human heads etc. Do you remember the imaginary huge human shredder of Saddam Hussein that British PM Ann Clawyd fabricated and which was not found anywhere in Iraq after the invasion. You would think that such huge machine would not be easy to hide!! She said that Hussein loved watching his “victims” suffer before being killed, so they will be put in the machine feet first so their shrieks would be like music to his ears. These propaganda spinners think that “tyrants” should be described as monsters who love to see human suffering. I agree with all the arguments the above writer made: why should Taliban drag the woman to the mountain to mutilate her and leave her to die? why not kill her on the spot? the answer would be of course, that the Taliban are monsters. It is like the story of S.H. why would he go into all the trouble of shredding his enemies? and if he really did that, and nothing remained but minced meat that were thrown to the fish in the river as the story went, what mass graves they were talking about as another legacy of S.H ?

    It is just like the story of Hitler. Why did he go into all the trouble of putting people alive in ovens, when he could have killed them by bullets? by the way, the real ovens, like the human shredders of S.H. were not found. The ovens displayed in the holocaust museum are replicas of what are supposed to be the original ovens.

  2. BBC World Service news this morning (August 8, 2010) had a breathless piece (no pun intended) of the reconstruction of this young woman’s face by a plastic surgeon in, I think, California.

    Shock value? It certainly has, but in a country (U.S.) where people die because they don’t have health insurance and access to regular health care, this – both the story and the surgery – seems a bit manufactured.

  3. Where to start? This will be a bit disjointed.

    First of all, IF the Taleban had indeed committed this act, and it was in keeping with their system of justice, their norms and their morality–it wouldn’t be bad Western press that would make them flinch and sell themselves out, denying their own laws and morality, admitting to what Westerners see as reprehensible. Their assertion might have been, you don’t understand us, you don’t belong here, and your rules don’t apply.

    But that is not what they have done. In fact, the Taleban have issued a press release formally and explicitly rejecting any notion that they were involved. I will post in full below–because the white washing of the Internet, determined to prevent us from hearing and learning about the Taleban, from the Taleban, is as pervasive as ever–but in the meantime here is the link:

    http://azelin.wordpress.com/2010/08/07/new-statement-from-the-islamic-emirate-of-afghanistan-response-regarding-a-picture-published-by-time-magazine/

    Listen to what they say!

    “We sympathize with our sister Aisha and call this atrocious act a crime against humanity and against Shariate law.”

    So back to TIME: it is their duty to PROVE the Taleban did this, not just assert it, and certainly not assert on such flimsy, untenable ethnographic grounds. It is NOT our duty to simply believe TIME.

    Secondly, had the Taleban done this, and had they in fact defended the action, I would say that the challenge to anthropologists is to recognize real difference, difference in form and in content, that is not reducible, translatable, or even understandable. It’s not about defending or excusing, but about pointing to the fact that you can only understand this from your own social and moral background. Note how we all seem to be on the same page here: this act was wrong. The challenge of real, radical difference has not been presented.

    Here is the statement in full:

    Sha’ban 25, 1431 A.H, Saturday, August 07, 2010

    In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

    Time magazine has recently published a picture of an Afghan women Aisha, and described her horrifying story which is connected to the Taliban under the title ‘Afghan women and the return of the Taliban’.

    Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan rejects this fabrication by the Americans, who are publishing these lies to divert attention of the people from their clear and disgraceful defeat.

    This desperate propaganda by Time magazine has shown the whole world to the lengths which the world media will go to please America, even at the cost of their Journalistic integrity.

    This picture published by Time magazine and the barbaric story wrongly attached to Islamic Emirate is not only false, but publishing these images are against the morals and ethics of professional journalism. A lot of journalists worldwide have condemned this act of Time magazine and called it a crime against journalism.

    As far as the story of Aisha is concerned, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has condemned this barbaric, inhumane and unislamic act and declares that this case has never been forwarded to any court or persons of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

    Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan uses Shariate law to solve any internal or human right issues. Shariate laws promote peace and justice to the society, not hatred and cruelty.

    In sacred Islamic law, cutting of human ears and noses whether the human is alive or dead is illegal and prohibited. In many hadith from Muhammad PBUH, cutting of noses, ears and lips of a dead unbeliever is prohibited, so how can the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan carry out this act especially when the person to whom it is done is alive and is a Muslim. Under Shariate law if someone carries out this heinous act, the same thing will be done to the criminal who has perpetuated this act.

    We sympathize with our sister Aisha and call this atrocious act a crime against humanity and against Shariate law.

    We call on Time and other western media to stop trampling on their own moral principles, just to hide and divert people’s attention from Americas military and political defeat by publishing such fabrications.

    We also call on Afghani media to stop spreading the lies of Islam hating western media by becoming their translators. Journalism is an important duty, thus it should not be used is spreading mischief.

    The Islamic Emirate Of Afghanistan

    Below are few American statistics which the theunjustmedia.com like to draw peoples attention to, America which claims that it needs to protect and liberate Afghan women, to this we say, if there is any place on the earth were women need to be protected and treaty with dignity it is in America, were close to half a million females are raped each year, keeping in mind that more then 50% rapes are not reported.

    U.S. Statistics

    Fact #1: 17.6 % of women in the United States have survived a completed or attempted rape. Of these, 21.6% were younger than age 12 when they were first raped, and 32.4% were between the ages of 12 and 17. (Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women, Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey, November, 2000)

    Fact #2: 64% of women who reported being raped, physically assaulted, and/or stalked since age 18 were victimized by a current or former husband, cohabiting partner, boyfriend, or date. (Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women, Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey, November, 2000)

    Fact #3: Only about half of domestic violence incidents are reported to police. African-American women are more likely than others to report their victimization to police Lawrence A. Greenfeld et al. (1998). (Violence by Intimates: Analysis of Data on Crimes by Current or Former Spouses, Boyfriends, and Girlfriends. Bureau of Justice Statistics Factbook. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice. NCJ #167237. Available from National Criminal Justice Reference Service.)

    Fact #4: The FBI estimates that only 37% of all rapes are reported to the police. U.S. Justice Department statistics are even lower, with only 26% of all rapes or attempted rapes being reported to law enforcement officials.

    Fact #5: In the National Violence Against Women Survey, approximately 25% of women and 8% of men said they were raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, or date in their lifetimes. The survey estimates that more than 300,000 intimate partner rapes occur each year against women 18 and older. (Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women, Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey, November, 2000)

    Fact #6: The National College Women Sexual Victimization Study estimated that between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 college women experience completed or attempted rape during their college years (Fisher 2000).

    Fact #7: Men perpetrate the majority of violent acts against women (DeLahunta 1997).

    Fact #8: Every two minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted. (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) calculation based on 2000 National Crime Victimization Survey. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice)

    Fact #9: One out of every six American women have been the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. (Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey, National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1998)

    Fact #10: Factoring in unreported rapes, about 5% – one out of twenty – of rapists will ever spend a day in jail. 19 out of 20 will walk free.(Probability statistics based on US Department of Justice Statistics)

    Fact #11: Fewer than half (48%) of all rapes and sexual assaults are reported to the police (DOJ 2001).

    Fact #12: Sexual violence is associated with a host of short- and long-term problems, including physical injury and illness, psychological symptoms, economic costs, and death (National Research Council 1996).

    Fact #13: Rape victims often experience anxiety, guilt, nervousness, phobias, substance abuse, sleep disturbances, depression, alienation, sexual dysfunction, and aggression. They often distrust others and replay the assault in their minds, and they are at increased risk of future victimization (DeLahunta 1997).

    Fact #14: According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, more than 260,000 rapes or sexual assaults occurred in 2000; 246,180 of them occurred among females and 14,770, among males (Department of Justice 2001).

    Fact #15: Sexual violence victims exhibit a variety of psychological symptoms that are similar to those of victims of other types of trauma, such as war and natural disaster (National Research Council 1996). A number of long-lasting symptoms and illnesses have been associated with sexual victimization including chronic pelvic pain; premenstrual syndrome; gastrointestinal disorders; and a variety of chronic pain disorders, including headache, back pain, and facial pain (Koss 1992).Between 4% and 30% of rape victims contract sexually transmitted diseases as a result of the victimization (Resnick 1997).

    Fact #16: More than half of all rapes of women occur before age 18; 22% occur before age 12. (Full Report of the Prevalance, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women, Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey, November, 2000)

    Fact #17: In 2000, nearly 88,000 children in the United States experienced sexual abuse (ACF 2002).

    Fact #18: About 81% of rape victims are white; 18% are black; 1% are of other races. (Violence Against Women, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Justice, 1994.)

    Fact #19: About half of all rape victims are in the lowest third of income distribution; half are in the upper two-thirds. (Violence against Women, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Justice, 1994.)

    Fact #20: According to the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBSS), a national survey of high school students, 7.7% of students had been forced to have sexual intercourse when they did not want to. Female students (10%) were significantly more likely than male students (5%) to have been forced to have sexual intercourse. Overall, black students (10%) were significantly more likely than white students (7%) to have been forced to have sexual intercourse (CDC 2002).

    Fact #21: Females ages 12 to 24 are at the greatest risk for experiencing a rape or sexual assault (DOJ 2001).

    Fact #22: Almost two-thirds of all rapes are committed by someone who is known to the victim. 73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger (— 38% of perpetrators were a friend or acquaintance of the victim, 28% were an intimate and 7% were another relative.)(National Crime Victimization Survey, 2005)

    Fact #23: The costs of intimate partner violence against women exceed an estimated $5.8 billion. These costs include nearly $4.1 billion in the direct costs of medical care and mental health care and nearly $1.8 billion in the indirect costs of lost productivity and present value of lifetime earnings. (Costs of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women in the United States, Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Atlanta, Georgia, March 2003).

    Fact #24: Domestic violence occurs in approximately 25-33% of same-sex relationships. (NYC Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, October 1996.)

    Fact #25: Boys who witness their fathers’ violence are 10 times more likely to engage in spouse abuse in later adulthood than boys from non-violent homes. (Family Violence Interventions for the Justice System, 1993)

    Fact #26: An estimated 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the United States annually for sexual exploitation or forced labor. (U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, 2000)

    Fact #27: Somewhere in America a woman is battered, usually by her intimate partner, every 15 seconds. (UN Study On The Status of Women, Year 2000)

    Fact #28: A University of Pennsylvania research study found that domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to low-income, inner-city Philadelphia women between the ages of 15 to 44 – more common than automobile accidents, mugging and rapes combined. In this study domestic violence included injuries caused by street crime.

    Fact #29: Following the Supreme Court’s decision in 2000 to strike down the civil-rights provision of the Federal Violence Against Women Act (ruling that only states could enact such legislation), only two states in the country (Illinois and California) have defined gender-based violence, such as rape and domestic violence, as sex discrimination, and created specific laws that survivors can use to sue their perpetrators in civil court. (Kaethe Morris Hoffer, 2004).

    Fact #30: A study reported in the New York Times suggests that one in five adolescent girls become the victims of physical or sexual violence, or both, in a dating relationship. (New York Times, 8/01/01)

    Source: U.S. Statistics

    1/3rd of Women in US Military Raped

    According to NPR, “In 2003, a survey of female veterans found that 30 percent said they were raped in the military. A 2004 study of veterans who were seeking help for post-traumatic stress disorder found that 71 percent of the women said they were sexually assaulted or raped while serving. And a 1995 study of female veterans of the Gulf and earlier wars, found that 90 percent had been sexually harassed.”

    The BBC recently reported on The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq by Helen Benedict. This book examines the extreme difficulties female soldiers have in serving abroad. Benedict interviewed several women in the military to get a deeper understanding of the issue, and some of their stories were real eye openers.

    Army specialist Chantelle Henneberry spoke of some of her experiences in Iraq, “Everybody’s supposed to have a battle buddy in the army, and females are supposed to have one to go to the latrines with, or to the showers – that’s so you don’t get raped by one of the men on your own side. But because I was the only female there, I didn’t have a battle buddy. My battle buddy was my gun and my knife.”

    Another study concluded that 90% of all women serving are sexually harassed. Another one estimates that 90% of all the rapes do not get reported, despite supposedly easier ways to report the crime with confidentiality since 2005. Either way, this appears to be an epidemic that needs to be dealt with.

    An online discussion from a former soldier whose identity is being protected had this to say, “At least a rape ends. It’s the day-to-day degradation that eats at you. None of my friends who were raped on active duty reported it. Or if we tried, we were told to shut up for ‘morale.’ Working with your rapist on a daily basis isn’t a lot of fun, believe me.”

    How the military is dealing with this appears to demonstrate a pattern of sweeping it under the rug. In 2008, 62% of those that were convicted of sexual assault or rape received very lenient punishments such as demotion, suspension, or a written reprimand.

    This problem is not confined to the US military either. This abuse is rampant among private defense contractors overseas as well, as recently highlighted by the recent press about Jamie Leigh Jones. Ms. Jones was in Iraq in 2005 when seven Halliburton/KBR employees drugged and brutally gang-raped her. Her injuries were so extensive that she had lacerations to her vagina and anus, her breast implants were ruptured, and her pectoral muscles torn. The response of KBR was to lock her in a shipping container with only a bed, and to deny her food, water, and medical treatment. The rape kit that was taken after she regained consciousness was mysteriously lost.

    This crime eventually led to an amendment being added to the defense appropriations bill by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN). This would require defense contractors to allow their employees access to US courts in cases of rape or sexual assault, regardless of where they are stationed. The 30 Republican senators voted against this amendment are currently being humiliated on the Republicans for Rape website and by John Stewart on the Daily Show.

    The culture of sexual violence against women that is allowed to exist in both the US military and private contractors needs to come to an end. When almost a third of all women serving are raped, and over two thirds sexually assaulted, this problem is rampant and systemic.

  4. Thank you for excavating and organizing this thick corpus of empirical evidence.

    Readers of Zero Anthropology will find the following academic sources helpful in framing this subject in a comparative perspective:

    Burr, Viv and Jeff Hearn (eds). 2008. Sex, Violence, and the Body: the Erotics of Wounding. NY: Palgrave.

    Chambers, Clare. 2008. Sex, Culture, and Justice. University Park: Penn. state U. Press.

    Hanna, Cheryl. 2002. “Domestic Violence”, Encyclopaedia of Crime and Justice, vol. 2, pp. 543-549.

    Jeffreys, Sheila. 2005. Beauty and Misogyny: Harmful Cultural Practices in the West. NY: Routledge.
    _____

    On another subject. Khaled Hosseini’s novel “The Kite Runner” has become the bible through which information and imaginings –especially those dealing with the location of women — about Afghanistan are filtered by the American popular media. A review of this novel will be out of place here. However, for the users of this bible, I wish to make two ethnographic observations: The syntax of Afghan Farsi does not produce the construct “kite runner”. The kite-flying culture of Afghanistan uses “kite player”–godi paran baz for this activity. There are virtually no women in the personal, family, and domestic lives of the author and his widowed father. Next time Hosseini is interviewed as a specialist about women’s lives in Afghanistan, he should be asked about these remarkable features of his novel.

  5. Well, speaking for myself (I think I did rate Ishtar’s comment down), I never heard stories of Hitler putting people alive in ovens.
    What I know is that there were several industrial ovens conceived and built by the “Topf und Söhne” company, in Auschwitz, Buchenwald and other camps. And those were used to incinerate people already killed (by bullets, gas, etc.). The ovens at Buchenwald were found, and there is a lot of historical documentation about the ovens at Auschwitz.

    So I find the argument according to which the replicas of ovens at Auschwitz – the real ovens at Auschwitz being destroyed by the nazis – are meant to dehumanize Hitler clearly misguided. The analogy that Ishtar makes between these replicas and the inventions about a “human shredder” in Irak, is, in my opinion, a totally false analogy.

    So no, I don’t refuse to admit being lied to. I rated down this comment because I found it to contain a false analogy and an historical error (real ovens were found, but not in Auschwitz).

    But maybe I would have had a different reaction if I had ever heard of stories of Hitler killing people by putting them into ovens instead of nazis killing people by many means in concentration camps and then using ovens to incinerate the bodies. And if I had been told that the ovens on display at Auschwitz are the real ones, and not replicas made after the destrution of the “Kremas” by the nazis.

  6. Thanks Jérémy, for that explanation. I mistakenly assumed that voting it down meant a total rejection of everything in the comment, which I personally don’t do. As for holocaust issues, I tend to keep very far away–mostly because I never invested the significant amount of time and energy that is required to do a serious study and sift through the many controversies and competing accounts, there is a great deal I do not know, and would like to know.

  7. These remarks are not criticism which calls for an answer, merely comments offered in the spirit of your piece on this widely disseminated agit-prop.

    You wrote:

    “…..I am not a medical doctor, but based on common sense, it would not take more than a few minutes of suffering heavy blood loss from open veins around the nose and ears to become fatal? How does a rural 19 year girl in such perilous medical condition, bleeding from open veins around her nose and ears, manage to move from a mountain….”

    Reading this, it occurred to me to point out that, as an anthropologist, you are surely aware that European and American medical doctors have exercised on women in defiance of common sense – especially in the domain of childbirth – for hundreds of years. There are studies of the appalling treatments imposed on women by specialised Medical Doctors, and our literature abounds with mockery at the organised charlatanism which has perennially supported institutional abuse of Western women.

    I know the phrase is handy, but reality offers an even starker contrast between propaganda and fact than a throwaway line.

    You also wrote:

    “…..There is not a shred of evidence for a football game played with human heads anywhere at any time in Afghanistan….. ”

    Interestingly, “The Haxton Hood Game” was played in pagan medieval England with the heads of monks still in their leather cowls, and evolved to become what we refer to as Rugby, today. I can’t quote you line and verse, off the cuff, for Harold Pinter’s mention of it, but its there somewhere.

  8. Jérémy

    You say “And those “ovens” were used to incinerate people already killed (by bullets, gas, etc.).

    The ovens at Buchenwald were found, and there is a lot of historical documentation about the ovens at Auschwitz.”

    Then you say :”the real ovens at Auschwitz being destroyed by the nazis”

    Let me ask you: did the nazis destroy the ovens which were just a means to dispose of already dead bodies, and kept intact the gas chambers as a witness to their crime?

    We are to accept logically that Hitler had the leisure to round millions of people, transfer them along far distances to labour camps – Auschwitz was called a labour camp – to mass-kill them by expensive, rare gasses, then incinerate them in ovens? Why all this trouble? why did he not just kill them by bullets on the spot, then shove them in mass graves?

    Here the ovens come to resecue of a much inflated story. If some one should ask: where are the bodies of 6 millions victims? the answer would be ready “No remains, they were cremated”.

    Here is the analogy with the human shredder.

    Iam not saying that the nazies did not kill Jews and others, but I do say that the reality is mixed with fiction.

    You know the Iraqi KUrds have always cried “holocaust” telling the world that Saddam Hussein had killed 182,000 of them just because they were Kurds. Tony Blair, sexing up the reasons for the war, had inflated the figure to 300,000.

    After the invasion, Bremer sought the help of US military “expert” contractors to digg out mass graves, to prepare evidences to convict Saddam Hussein and his generals. With the help of satellites, troops and equipment of the Military, only 3 graves were found. The so called experts were witnesses at the show trial Of S.H. They told us in many scientic details that all the bodies found were about 300! They told us how they were killed, where the bullets entered the bones, but they never knew WHO killed them.There was no evidence whatsoever that related them to Saddam Hussein’s government. The gabs were filled with fabrications. Kurdish witnesses were brought to tell to us, in a parrot-like one narration what they had heard from their elders when they were only 4 years old.It was a farce.

    That is where the human shredder was useful. Where are the bodies of 182,000 or the Blair’s 300,000 then?

    They were shredded and the remains thrown to some lucky fish in the river! The inventor of the human shredder, is a respectable British MP and who, by the way, is a close friend of the Kurdish political parties, so how can we challenge the fabrication?

    This is how a holocaust is made up for political agenda.

    You remember that S.H. was found “guilty” by the occupation court, and therefore executed, for the “crime” of signing, being the head of the state, some court execution orders of about 140 Shias, who had admitted to their involvement in assassination attempt of Hussein, the President and Commander in chief, during the Iraq-Iran war, with the help and support of Iranian agents. This would be called “high treason” in any country in the world, but in Iraq that deed is hailed now by the US-puppets as heroic.

    Why was Hussein not convicted and executed for the genocide of 182,000 Kurds? because it was impossible to prove. No bodies have been found more than those 300 whom nobody knew for sure, who killed them.

    Is it not revealing that the thumps down for my first comment were because of the “ovens” , and not because of the context of my comment?

    Is it not a shame, that as a people of free mind, we are allowed to challenge the existence of the divine, which is a taboo in some communities, including mine, yet recoil from challenging the facts or lies of some historical event?

  9. Ishtar,

    I won’t anwer on the case of S.H, because I don’t know enough about that, and I tend to believe what you say.

    I’ll answer to the questions you asked me :

    Let me ask you: did the nazis destroy the ovens which were just a means to dispose of already dead bodies, and kept intact the gas chambers as a witness to their crime?

    No. In Auschwitz, the nazis destroyed the gas chambers in late 1944, following Himmler’s orders. They also destroyed as much proofs of their crimes as they could.

    We are to accept logically that Hitler had the leisure to round millions of people, transfer them along far distances to labour camps – Auschwitz was called a labour camp – to mass-kill them by expensive, rare gasses, then incinerate them in ovens? Why all this trouble? why did he not just kill them by bullets on the spot, then shove them in mass graves?

    What is the issue here ? People who were killed in gas chambers were killed not by “expensive, rare gaz” but either by carbone monoxyd in the first experimental gas chambers, and then by hydrogen cyanide, which is not “expensive” (is it not considered too expensive to kill insects) and kills very quickly even at very small concentrations. But bullets were also largely used by the nazis, as well as starvation. Don’t you think it is a bit “easier” (technically and politically) to do mass killings in camps rather than in cities’ streets ?

    Saying that they were “no remains” is simply false. And not every victims of the nazis in the camps were incinerated. I know of a few pictures of mass graves, I don’t want to post the links here because it is very horrible, but I can if you wish so.

    I personally find it a bit strange that no one is “challenging the facts” about the murder of millions of sovietic prisoners of war in the hand of the nazis on the eastern front. Not interesting enough ?

    So no, I don’t buy your comparison between very well documented war crimes by the nazis and the many inventions about Saddam Hussein made for the invasion of Irak, and for the mock trial.

    About your last question, maybe people react strongly to arguments which smells of negationism about the concentration camps, because this in turn smells of racism and fascism.
    In my case, I think you are clearly hurting your case by establishing a comparison between inventions made up against Saddam Hussein and very well documented historical facts about the numerous nazi crimes.
    I don’t personally recoil from “challenging” different historical accounts, I try to compare the different versions, look for the evidences and analyze the arguments supporting them. In the case of the nazi crimes, the negationists’ arguments are shitty, and the evidences absent.

  10. Speaking just for myself, I think it’s not unlikely now that some will say those who deny the Taleban role in committing this atrocious act (even if the deniers now include the Taleban themselves), are “on the same page” (literally and figuratively) as those who deny the holocaust. If some right wing commentators can liken quoting Wikileaks records to holocaust denial, then this should be less of a leap for them.

    Let me please ask that we stick to the topic, it’s complicated enough as it is, without venturing into argument by analogy–especially when the analogies being drawn are even more complicated, and sometimes many more details have been obscured.

  11. Max,

    I agree that we should stick to the main topic. Sorry for digression

    To Jeremy, I would only say:

    1- You can not label me as anti-semite as I am an Arab, my language is of the semite family. I can not be anti-myself.

    2- You can not call me racist, as I am an Arab who has nothing to do with the crime of holocaust. The holocaust, irrelevant of the exact number, was carried out by Europeans, at a time when Jews were holding high positions in the Iraqi government and in our society.

    3- The fact, that Holocaust denial is “explicitly or implicitly illegal in 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, and Switzerland.”-wikipedia- is very absurd. Never in history, discussing a historical event, has been considered a crime. This, in itself is fascism.

    4- “well documented historical facts about the numerous nazi crimes” How do we know they are well documented, if we are criminalized for just trying to say a different opinion?

  12. I thoroughly enjoyed your fine article. Our Zionist controlled main stream media (MSM) needs constant exposure. It isn’t enough that we be aware that the MSM plays the public like a fiddle. It is very easy to pick up a Time and forget that it’s only purpose is pure propaganda.

    On another subject, I understand why you won’t touch the subject of the holocaust… and it has nothing at all to do with you not having enough time to study the subject. This is shameful. I’m calling you out on this one. The Zionist carry big sticks to hit people who do not go along with their fictional “poor victimized Jew” version of history. Guaranteed, you will hear at least one new Jewish holocaust story every month. Why do you suppose that is so? Why don’t we hear any news stories about the Pol Pot Cambodian mass murders (which only occurred 40 years ago) . Why no regular news about the Armenian massacres? Why no current stories of Jews murdering the men, women and children of Gaza? Responsible journalism means disregarding those with the sticks and reporting the truth. We both know the official version of the Jewish ordeal during WWII is total BS. Cowards like you put more responsible journalist at risk. If everyone stands up to the Zionist lies, they cannot repress us all. Work on it, brother (sister?).

  13. Ishtar,
    I agree. I would only add that to a “western” audience, denying or minimizing nazi crimes is a speciality of racist and far-right types. I think you are neither.

  14. Look, this is not an article about the holocaust, I don’t know how much more plain I can make it. I am not the author, but I am pretty sure that Jamil also did not intend this to be an article about Zionism. My opposition to Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands does not at all, for one moment, require any reference to the holocaust whatsoever. It has nothing to do with cowardice, and there is plenty on this site that I have written that would show you otherwise–about where I stand on Israeli policies, not on the holocaust, which I do not deny, and think it incredibly stupid to do so. However, when it comes to debating the evidentiary bases for this or that aspect of the holocaust, or what happened and when at a particular death camp, I would recommend that readers turn elsewhere, and not to me, as I am not an expert and a crash course won’t do either. So, no, your baiting me has failed.

    A warning is needed now: any more off topic posts here will be deleted, or comments will be shut off altogether.

  15. I should add that I can see how this has happened and why the discussion has gone where it has. I wouldn’t have referred even in passing to Israel or Zionism in this story, unless it has some meaningful and direct bearing that can be substantiated, and I just don’t see it.

  16. One more tie-in to the Time cover story and then I promise I’ll go away.

    In The Nation by Ann Jones, veteran war correspondent and someone very familiar with the plight of Afghan women.

    Afghan Women Have Already Been Abandoned

    She knows the young woman on the cover and wrote:

    “I heard Aisha’s story from her a few weeks before the image of her face was displayed all over the world. She told me that her father-in-law caught up with her after she ran away, and took a knife to her on his own; village elders later approved, but the Taliban didn’t figure at all in this account.”

  17. CM, I hope you don’t go away, that was some of the most constructive input yet.

    One of your last messages appears way up this page, so let me repeat it here, before I add my own–by the way, thanks for these links!

    As Deep Throat was reported to have said, “Follow the money.”
    From the NY Observer:
    With its horrifying cover story, Time gave the war a boost. Did its reporter profit?
    Asked and answered.

    And one from me, which I also thought was right on target:

    Between the Bomb and the Burqa

  18. The article you linked had this line:
    “…[t]his cynical trend continue[d] under the Obama administration. The women’s rights issue became a convenient propaganda tool for corporate media to sell the war.”

    I think WikiLeaks leaked that document, too. No wonder the Pentagon (memorably named the Five Sided Loony Bin by a military blogger) and the CIA are shaken up by Assange and his organization.

    I listened to a podcast of Malalai Joya’s speech in Vancouver in October, 2007 and was vaccinated against the spin that the governments, military and others would use to continue the war – not that I didn’t have a pretty high level of antibodies to it already.

    She also appeared on Democracy Now and more recently on the Allan Gregg show on TVO. She was brave as a young woman MP and just as intrepid in this interview. For once, Mr. Gregg hardly said a word. I felt like cheering.

    —–
    Malalai Joya, a young female Afghan MP, who has survived several assassination attempts, talks about why she wants NATO troops to leave Afghanistan.

    [audio src="http://feeds.tvo.org/~r/podcasts/audio/AllanGreggInConversation/~3/l6oHxgdYNeo/001937_48k.mp3" /]
    —–
    There’s a website that memorializes civilians killed in Afghanistan called The Twin Tragedy. I haven’t seen too many recent entries, but the ones that are there are horrifying enough.

    The Afghan Victim Memorial Project
    http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mwherold/memorial.htm

    Professional organizations – doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, anthropologists (as you’d know) – are railing against their members being involved in interrogation and torture, and for anthro’s, the Human Terrain Teams that require them to violate their code of ethics to give occupying forces an advantage.

    Some people can live with the ethical conflicts. For others, it becomes too much and they become depressed and suicidal. You have to wonder how any sane person could not be depressed if they really know what’s going on.

  19. Ann Jones is an American radical feminist writer. She is the author of the 2006 “Kabul in Winter”, an angry but insightful summary volume about social and political conditions in Kabul during 2002 when she first visited the city. Jone’s comments about the mutilated Aisha further complicate this “story” and opens up the door to other probabilities. As Jones points out the landscape of Afghanistan was heavily covered with anti-personnel land mines during the twenty four year occupation and civil war that preceded her visit. The injuries caused by these mines were a common site in Kabul (Kabul in Winter, p. 17-18). A Ministry of Martyrs and the Disabled was created to attend to the needs of the tens of thousands of these disabled bodies.

    When the central government of Afghanistan collapsed in 1992 (and during subsequent years) the various factions of the Northern Alliance entered Kabul and committed unspeakable crimes in several parts of Kabul against women and children. Widespread mutilations including severance of women’s breasts were reported. “Seena kabab”—breast kakab—was vended as a trophy in parts of west Kabul. Aisha could be a Kabuli woman (probably now older than 18) carrying a childhood loss of nose and ears caused by the Northern Alliance mutilators or by land mines.

    Ann Jones did not speak Farsi during her 2002 visit to Kabul. I am uninformed about her subsequent experience with Afghanistan and acquisition of competence in Kabuli culture. Invoking the honorific “bibi” for an 18 years old girl in Afghanistan is culturally awkward and out of place, even inappropriate. If Jones does not speak Farsi, her claim that she “heard Aisha’s story from her….” (Ann Jones, “Afghan Women Have Already Been Abandoned”, The Nation, August 12, 2010 [online]) is dubious unless she heard it in English from Aisha or from an interpreter. Does Aisha speak English? Who was the interpreter? Time and place of the conversation? Jone’s attribution to Aisha “that her father-in-law caught up with her after she ran away. And took a knife to her on his own; village elders later approved…” is a blatant cart before the horse in its local cultural context. It reflects Jone’s innocence about Afghan culture and the universal belief in the Kabul “reconstruction” market that the Euro-American occupiers of Afghanistan will grab whatever yarn you extend to them provided it does not undermine the rationale and ideology of the occupation and its culture cleansing project and as long as it demeans the occupiers’ real or imagined enemies.

    The cloud around Aisha’s predicament further thickens as a reader of Jone’s article in the Nation (Eirrin 8/12/2010) posts the following comment:

    “This war crime against an Afghan woman is undoubtedly the work of Blackwater. They dress as Afghans, and then commit these heinous crimes against civilians as Taliban to justify the US staying in Afghanistan for another 10 years”.

  20. I first heard about Ann Jones on the TomDispatch site, where she is a regular contributor. Putting her name in the search box will pull up many articles.

    She is a photographer, reporter, and became a humanitarian aid worker in Afghanistan when she saw the plight of women in that poor ruined country after years and years of war and felt she had to help.

    She’s traveled the world and found that women have not done terribly well in large parts of it. As your picture at the top of the article shows, women in the
    “enlightened” west are subjected daily to all types of abuse and injury. The idea that western governments and their militaries have any high ground to stand on in this matter is a bit of a joke considering the misogynistic nature of the military in general and the high incidence of assault in its ranks.

    I don’t know whether Ann Jones speaks or understands Farsi or not, but she surely must have picked up something during her four years there.

    I’m not sure what you mean by a “radical” feminist, but during her travels of forty years or more and seeing what she has seen as well as living through the fifties and sixties as a young woman, it’s hard to see how she could be anything but a feminist.

    And the problem is everywhere. I doubt she ever meant to single out Afghanistan as the only place, but one of many.

    I have no idea whether “bibi” is appropriate or not. It sounds like a term of endearment to me, but then again, I don’t speak Farsi.

    It just seems like Ann Jones doesn’t have as much of an “agenda” as Time magazine would – sales, drumming up outrage, more war spending for spouses of the people who wrote the article. I just know that I trust her more than I would the corporate mouthpiece that is Time.

  21. In the Iraqi Arabic dialect which has also some influences of Farsi and Turkish, we call grandmothers “bibi”. A “bibi” in Iraqi is a woman who has grandchildren.

  22. In Farsi, bibi, is “lady or mistress of the house”. I think this is where, Iraqis have borrowed this term to apply – out of respect- to grandmothers who are considered “heads or rulers of the family”.

  23. Thanks for all of these ethnographic and linguistic notes, both Jamil and Ishtar.

    I think that CM also raises very good points, which I tend to agree with. I don’t think that Ann Jones at any point reveals a naive innocence about the aims, methods, and tropes of occupation, and she is among the more critical, and experienced, writers out there. That she must have learned something about the local cultures in her four years there (I am taking this number for granted, I have not checked it myself, nor do I recall), seems almost inevitable.

    I am not sure that I follow Jamil’s argument with Ann Jones, who is also criticizing the Time story and suggesting fabrication. To undo her argument would seem to then be shoring up the Time version, especially as she has discounted any Taleban role in this affair, which is what Jamil was also doing. If anything, she seems to be offering factual corroboration for the valid doubts expressed by Jamil.

    As for “radical feminism,” I have very little problem with that. It is not the radical feminists who are advocating for intervention and continued occupation–understanding that we are using monolithic shorthands when we employ these labels. In fact, it seems that the radical feminists are among the ones most critical of the occupation, and are locked in battle with Western, middle class, liberal feminists whose apparent idea of doing good for women is premised on making a pet project of the lives of women in other societies and cultures. For every Aisha abroad, there is at least one Connie back home. Except that Connie seems to have reconciled herself to the vicious abuse and wants to get back together with her common law spouse, who removed half her face, blinded her, and nearly killed her. That suggests that Connie needs much more help beyond a face transplant…the problem here is not a surgical one.

    Whatever the case, we will not find a clear ideological line to draw when it comes to anti-imperialism and forces against the US/NATO occupation. Among those opposed you will find these “radical feminists,” radical gays, Afrocentrics, middle class Europeans, Marxists, Trotskyists, Maoists, social democrats (well, not really, but maybe a few), the so called “Islamic fundamentalists,” anarchists, and right wing Republicans against empire (and some of you may have noticed the frequent trackbacks from their sites to ours, because they feel they have found kindred spirits here…which is funny but also important). Almost no two of these different constituencies will be happy working together on more than one issue. For me, anti-imperialism is an absolute moral value (just like being against murder and rape are absolute moral values), and I can work with anyone, of any political or religious stripe, on this one cause. On other causes, we will part ways.

    Sorry for interjecting some of these personal notes above.

  24. Maybe Ann Jones took it to mean the prefix to a name given to a married woman. That’s one new thing I’ve learned today.

  25. I think Ann Jones is just an intrepid chronicler of events around the world from a woman’s perspective – which is what she is, after all. She reminds me of those Irish monks during the Dark Ages collecting and copying the wisdom of their times and spreading it to others who would do the same, just in case those who were against knowledge and wisdom attempted to destroy what humans had managed to amass so far.

    The destruction of the Library at Alexandria makes me feel very sad when I think about it (I know it was a long time ago) simply because we’ll never know what was lost, as does the destruction of the museum in Baghdad and the Bamyan buddhas in Afghanistan. They’re all examples of wanton destruction of something simply because you don’t care about it even though others may value it.

    It’s what imperialism manages to achieve all the time. Like Tacitus said, “They have created a wasteland and called it peace.”

    One more note about Ann Jones. She travels and reports mostly alone, sometimes with a driver or interpreter. Since she wanted to cover all the angles of the story, she applied as an embedded reporter with the U.S. military in Afghanistan. The only thing they were concerned about was that she had health insurance. She showed them her Medicare card.

    Her conclusion?

    Ann Jones: For a War Critic, It Looks as Bad From Inside As it Does From Outside

    I’m not a do-gooder. That doesn’t mean I won’t help if asked and I can actually do something useful. It’s just that I don’t think I necessarily have answers to anything. When I look at the the sheer tenacity of people living in Afghanistan, in the Arctic, in hard times and hard climates all over the world, I’m filled with admiration. I just get the feeling that they have a lot more to tell me than I have to tell them.

  26. I’m against the war in Afghanistan. I’m against misogyny. I’m against what the Taliban did to Aisha. These are not mutually exclusive, and shame on you for trivializing her ordeal by calling her a “cover girl.”

  27. Shame on you for reading none of the article, and none of the related ones, in insisting about what “the Taliban did to Aisha.” There is no trivialization at all here, but rather a reference to the sensationalizing done by Time…for which “cover girl” is a perfect expression.

  28. Marion L

    I am also against the war in afghanistan. Iam also against what was done to Aisha, But the debate was about who really did it, and whether the Time has deliberately lied about the real colprits in order to demonize Taliban.

    I would request you to check these links of Iraqi girls and boys just like Aisha, mutilated intentionally by the USA. I wonder if someone inside USA will give them the same opportunity given to Aisha to repair their faces and bodies, or even post them on magazines’ covers.

    http://www.sbs.com.au/dateline/story/watch/id/600687/n/Iraq-s-Deadly-Legacy

  29. When I saw this Time Magazine cover I was reminded of all the anti-Taliban propaganda that was surfacing on the internet and via email prior to the current US occupation. What woman wouldn’t be horribly offended to find out that somewhere else there are women being oppressed? That almost makes us forget the humiliation and oppression that goes hand in hand with being a woman right here in the US. It seems to fall along the lines of what Laura Nader had called “comparative consciousness.”

    After seeing your article, I was reminded how Time Magazine’s articles on AIDS in “Africa” (whatever that means) – a perennial feature it seemed for a while – misdirected readers into believe that “Africa” was a cesspool of HIV infection, prostitution and ignorant sexually active teenagers. This of course with no differentiation between countries, regions, economics or even HIV infection statistics for the continent. (Of course I’m not implying in any way that anyone “deserves” to have an HIV infection regardless of their behavior.)

    I always had a hard time convincing students that this was propaganda and did not necessarily reflect reality… but it’s hard to convince people of something if their belief system is stronger than the evidence to the contrary.

    (Meanwhile, I’m waiting for other human rights abuses that have been carried out via non consensual experimentation here to be exposed and prosecuted.)

  30. And then we have Code Fink in the shape of Medea Benjamin endorsing the wonderful role of the US military in fighting for women’s rights!

  31. “Code Fink” — I have to remember to use that. By now it seems that people who have not looked past the photo have accepted that the Taleban did this, without any question in their minds. Indeed, TIME has captured their heads to the extent that in Reddit, the discussion of this article saw at least one complainer accusing *us* of sensationalism…oblivious to the fact that we are responding to TIME’s obvious sensationalism.

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