March 18th, 2010
07:41 AM ET

'Shaming' her in-laws costs 19 year old her nose, ears

"When they cut off my nose and ears, I passed out," 19-year-old Bibi Aisha of Afghanistan says with chilling candor.

Her beauty is still stunning and her confidence inspiring. It takes a moment for the barbaric act committed against her to register in your mind and sight.

Wearing her patterned scarf and with roughly painted nails she shares her story.

"It felt like there was cold water in my nose, I opened my eyes and I couldn't even see because of all the blood," she remembers.

It was an act of Taliban justice for the crime of shaming her husband's family.

This story began when Aisha was just 8 years old.

Her father had promised her hand in marriage, along with that of her baby sister's, to another family in a practice called "baad."

"Baad" in Pashtunwali, the law of the Pashtuns, is a way to settle a dispute between rival families.

At 16, she was handed over to her husband's father and 10 brothers, who she claims were all members of the Taliban in Oruzgan province. Aisha didn't even meet her husband because he was off fighting in Pakistan.

"I spent two years with them and became a prisoner," she says. (Watch more of the interview with Aisha)

Tortured and abused, she couldn't take it any longer and decided to run away. Two female neighbors promising to help took her to Kandahar province.

But this was just another act of deception.

When they arrived to Kandahar her female companions tried to sell Aisha to another man.

All three women were stopped by the police and imprisoned. Aisha was locked up because she was a runaway. And although running away is not a crime, in places throughout Afghanistan it is treated as one if you are a woman.

A three-year sentence was reduced to five months when President Hamid Karzai pardoned Aisha. But eventually her father-in-law found her and took her back home.

That was the first time she met her husband. He came home from Pakistan to take her to Taliban court for dishonoring his family and bringing them shame.

The court ruled that her nose and ears must be cut off. An act carried out by her husband in the mountains of Oruzgan where they left her to die.

But she survived.

And with the help of an American Provincial Reconstruction Team in Oruzgan and the organization Women for Afghan Women (WAW), she is finally getting the help and protection she needs.

Offers have been pouring in to help Aisha, but there are many more women suffering in silence.

The United Nations estimates that nearly 90 percent of Afghanistan's women suffer from some sort of domestic abuse. This in a country where there are only about eight women's shelters to provide sanctuary from the cruelty they face. And all of the eight are privately run.

"Bibi Aisha is only one example of thousands of girls and women in Afghanistan and throughout the world who are treated this way - who suffer abuses like this, like this and worse," says board member for WAW, Esther Hyneman.

In 2001, the situation of Afghan women and Taliban brutality received plenty of attention. Now organizations like WAW say the international community is strangely silent on the issue.

Hyneman says not enough is being done to help the women in Afghanistan and that feeds into the hands of the insurgency.

"When you have ... 50 percent of a population on their knees, it's very easy for extremists, tyrants to take over a country," she adds. "They have a ready-made enslaved population."

Aisha is reminded of that enslavement every time she looks in the mirror.

But there still times she can laugh. And at that moment you see her teenage spirit escaping a body that has seen a lifetime of injustice.

- This story is part of CNN's Impact Your World project.

soundoff (568 Responses)
  1. hh- afghanistan

    those people who committed this crime doesnt worth to live in this world anymore.

    October 18, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Basil

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    September 23, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
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    Couldnt possess mentioned it far better my self! Fantastic examine.

    June 13, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  6. Neferteri Lewis

    this is a very tragic story

    April 5, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. pooja

    This is not how a woman should be treated. Shame on those coward husbands. Should hang them so that they can also suffer..

    February 22, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • vpls

      this is very sad women should not be treated like this they diserve freedom and all rights to live the way they want to, she is a strong young beautiful lady those men are just so cold hearted it hurts me to read this article knowing the problems women are going through the u.s.a are doing alot of things to help but its going to take more than just one country i know its hard but i think it would make a better place to live in

      October 26, 2011 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  8. Kacey Ziemer

    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You definitely know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your site when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?

    February 2, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
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    January 6, 2011 at 6:09 am | Report abuse |
  10. Leah

    Thats just sad .............

    no comment

    November 17, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. john

    to try to understand why such atrociaous acts mostly happen amongst muslims it is important to understand the life of the prophet muhammed.the parts of his life that even muslims try to avoid in any debates if they can help it.
    afterall it was muhammed who married ayesha when she was 6 years old,yes i wrote 6 this is not madeup ask any true muslim.
    it was muhammed who saw zenib scantily clad and began to lust for her even though she was his adopted son's wife.and ask any truly knowledgable muslim and they will tell you his adopted son was willing to give muhammed his own wife so easily that you have to wonder how sacred was the idea of marriage really?
    and also any true knowledgable muslim will tell you the time when muhammed marriad safia on the same day his army had her husband joke this is all regarded as truth amongst muslims,ask them.
    don't forget to ask any true muslim what muhammed advised his men to do with women they had captured in any battles.he advised them not to worry about ejaculating inside them for it is allah's (god's) will if they should happen to get pregnant.
    now knowing only this much about muhammed the great prophet of islam it is not hard to imagine why today there is a muslim woman with her nose cut off.

    October 30, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. sweet

    i am a muslim girl living in bahrain ..we have everything here its not strict as saudi as we have many foreigners living and working here, i personally do not wear the hejab and dont cover up we are far more liberal (although if we want we could cover up, our choice).. i feel upset for saudi girls who have to cover their faces let alone their hair and have no freedom at all..saudi women are not even allowed to have a driving license..everything is in the hands of their men

    ..i just feel really sad for the one has the right to do this to another human being and on top of that the poor girl's reason was that she ran away from these cruel animals..

    God will show them they wont get away with it

    all taliban should be wiped from the face of earth

    September 6, 2010 at 5:30 am | Report abuse |
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