Saving Aesha, Saving Afghanistan

Watch this inspiring story about Aesha, the young woman from Afghanistan, who became the “face” of Taliban brutality in Afghanistan when her disfigured face was displayed on the cover of an August 2010 issue of Time magazine.

The CNN video is about Aesha’s life with an Afghan-American family in Frederick, Maryland.  Her caregivers consider her a daughter but as they point out in the piece, she has a very long journey of recovery.  She is enthusiastically learning English and has the well wishes of everyone around the world who see her as a symbol of overcoming the worst brutality and doing so in such a public forum.  I hope that Aesha can handle all the media scrutiny and not get lost in her celebrity.  She has now begun reconstructive surgery, a difficult process that will likely take the next two years.  You can read about her progress here.

I bring this video to you as a source of inspiration for a country that continues to occupy the world’s attention.  On July 8, 2012, the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan promised $16 billion in ODA (official development assistance) for Afghanistan.  The aid package for Afghanistan was announced as yet another horrific news story emerged this week of a 22-year-old woman shot in public for an accusation of adultery.  Her life was ended in less than an hour as a result of a dispute between two Taliban commanders who claim that she was sexually involved with both of them.  To settle the dispute, they decided to execute her in front of hundreds of cheering Taliban fighters.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this about the Tokyo conference aid package:

Let me emphasize that the United States believes strongly that no nation can achieve sustainable peace, reconciliation, stability, and economic growth if half the population is not empowered.  All citizens need to have the chance to benefit from and contribute to Afghanistan’s progress, and the United States will continue to stand strongly by the women of Afghanistan.

As a public speaker I love words, but words alone will not save Afghanistan.  I wonder if these billions of dollars in aid to Afghanistan will improve the status of women and girls in a country where they continue to be singled out for discrimination at best and public execution at worst.  My faith is not in the Afghanistan government but rather the collective efforts of human rights workers and global citizens who demand action against the Taliban and their supporters who continue to terrorize their own people.

6 thoughts on “Saving Aesha, Saving Afghanistan

  1. I have seen her picture on the cover of Time Magazine and have heard of the life she had to go through before. Even though I know the facts of what she went through, I cannot start to imagine what she must have felt through all her experiences. I cannot but feel awe for how strong she is to have overcome this experience and now be able to lead every day with a smile. I think her story is well known in the U.S. since being on the cover of Time and had a big impact on the view of discrimination still going on in other parts of the world. I didn’t exactly view Japan as having strong relations with Afghanistan, so I was surprised that Japan was the one that lent a hand. I know nothing can happen in a short time and it takes time and energy. I hope that this aid will help change something, even if it is a little change.

  2. I did not know that the Japanese government decided to offer a large amount of money as ODA for Afghanistan. I believe that it is morally right to do so and that the government did a good job, but at the same time, I feel that the government should do a better job about domestic politics. There are many problems in Japan such as 3.11 incidents, economic recession and social welfare, but everything is unresolved and there is no leadership in the Japanese government. Therefore, before deciding to offer a large amount of money to Afghanistan, they need to think more about domestic politics and improve the current situation in domestic affairs.

  3. I had the chance to read the TIME magazine article with Aesha on the cover when it was first published and I was shocked. The cover picture itself had a great impact but what she has gone through with the Taliban regime was so brutal and heartbreaking. The documentary video of CNN about Aesha leading a new life in America brought tears to my eyes. How she said she wants to become a police officer and bring justice to the society was touching, considering the situation she was in. I cannot but hope for the best for her, but one thing I am concerned with is the other girls still left behind in Afghanistan. Because of the TIME magazine, she was privileged to attract people’s attention and get all the aid and support, but those voices of women and girls who are still left behind in Afghanistan are silenced into nowhere. I hope the financial aid will help them become independent and not slip into the politicians’ pockets.

  4. This video was very touching and I thought this sends a strong message to younger age females. The adoptive mother of Aesha mentioned that “Aesha is a fighter.” When I look back at the woman discrimination in the world and see women treated as if they don’t have any right to speak or do anything, it hurts and makes me angry. I have studied about Afghanistan once, and I learned that most children, especially girls, are not able to go to school and learn because they need to stay home and help their parents. Also, the parents in Afghanistan encourage their girls to get married at a very young age so that the parents themselves can receive money from the husband’s family. The whole idea is so unreal and absurd for our commonsense. However, the acknowledgment of what Aesha went through will be a great change to the world. Aesha has physically lost parts of herself because of the abuse from her husband and also mentally lost confidence. But it is so astonishing that she is trying to be the spokeswoman in order to tell the world about justice. I hope for her future a great deal and hope she will contribute to many people who are suffering from the same matter.

  5. The video of Aesha was so shocking and I found that many women in Afghanistan suffer from the same circumstance that she was in. Aesha has a beautiful and strong spirit to overcome her sorrow, but there are many woman who experience the same suffering and cannot escape from the situation. For these women, what Aesha said can be a great help.

  6. I remember when I saw her for the first time at TIME magazine. It was a really shocking picture. I know that women in Arab countries are suppressed, but seeing the real picture gave me a clear image of the seriousness of the problem. As you mentioned, words alone cannot help her. But I do not know any other means to approach to her, even though I wish I had. What I can do so far is to see the reality.

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