Correcting the Record on Bibi Ayesha

This summer a teenage girl took a courageous stand for her country by bravely allowing TIME magazine to publish her butchered face on its cover. She was not a pawn of the military industrial complex. No one twisted her arm to tell Aryn Baker her story. Bibi Ayesha made a conscious choice to show and tell the world exactly what a return to Taliban governance looks like, particularly for Afghan women and girls.


Residents of a shelter run by Women for Afghan Women on their way to school.

Many so-called peace activists have distorted the facts of her story and pretzeled out of shape her straightforward message. Whether or not they realize it, opponents of the NATO military mission in Afghanistan are promoting a holocaust agenda for Afghans. Coalition forces are the only thing preventing a return to the violence and oppression of the 1990s in Afghanistan, when approximately 400,000 Afghan civilians were killed.

First the facts: The Taliban family of Bibi Ayesha's husband considered that mutilating her ears and nose was a fitting punishment for the crime of trying to escape from their abuse. She passed out from the pain. After regaining consciousness, alone on a mountainside and choking on her own blood, she managed to walk to her village. Her father then took her to the office of a nearby Provincial Reconstruction Team. The PRT cared for her for about three months, and in November of 2009, they took her to a battered women's shelter run by Women for Afghan Women.

One example of an article which distorted the facts of Ayesha's story in order to corkscrew them into an anti-war message was written by Kavita Ramdas. To promote the notion that Ayesha's story has suddenly been made public to bolster flagging support for the Afghan mission, Ramdas untruthfully states that Ayesha was attacked in 2003. This was no mere typographical error. There are stories being circulated which falsely claim that Ayesha's attack happened years ago. One such story shows the TIME cover photo of Ayesha adjacent to that of another girl with similar injuries. Close inspection of the two photos reveals that they are not of the same girl. The girl in the 2007 photo has light brown eyes, while Ayesha's eyes are quite dark brown. Also, a scar is visible on Ayesha which extends to her upper lip. The girl in the 2007 photo does not have such a scar.

Another distortion of Bibi Ayesha's story was written by Ann Jones, who untruthfully claimed: (1) that she knows Bibi Ayesha; (2) that Ayesha had told her story to Jones; and (3) that "the Taliban didn't figure at all" in Ayesha's account of the event. According to Esther Hyneman of Women for Afghan Women, the organization which sheltered Bibi Ayesha, Ann Jones did in fact meet her for a few minutes at their shelter, but, speaking through a translator, Ayesha answered Jones' interview questions in monosyllables. To call that "knowing her," as if the two women were great chums, is a gross exaggeration.


A life skills class at a battered women's shelter run by Women for Afghan Women.

In an effort to demonize every soldier working in Afghanistan, Ramdas hauls out of history a crime committed 15 years ago, not in Afghanistan, but in Japan. It was a terrible crime. A 12 year old girl was brutally raped, but the soldiers and sailor who committed this crime were prosecuted and sent to prison. Ramdas' recitation of the crime on Okinawa and a murder committed, again, not in Afghanistan, but North Carolina, is irrelevant to the subject of the International Coalition in Afghanistan.

Ramdas' statement that, "Guns, soldiers and military presence do not increase security," is absurd. No doubt the police in her town carry guns. It is unlikely that she would feel safer if they did not. But let's put her statement into more relevant, geopolitical contexts. For some 60 years, "guns, soldiers and military presence" have been protecting the people of South Korea from attack by the military forces of North Korea. In Bosnia and Kosovo, it was "guns, soldiers and military presence" that brought an end to the ethnic cleansing and slaughter of civilians by Serbian militias.

In a roundabout fashion, Ramdas argues that Taliban violence, such as that committed against Bibi Ayesha, is just Afghan culture. It is not. However, to promote the concept that it is, agents of Pakistan actually pay good money to anyone willing to commit an acid attack ($2,000), kill a teacher ($4,000) or burn down a school ($10,000).

A December 2009 survey conducted by the Afghan Center for Socio-Economic and Opinion Research (ACSOR) showed that only 6 percent of Afghans would prefer a return to Taliban governance. Like the French who supported German control of France, these Vichy Afghans are a tiny minority with ties to Pakistan which have corroded their concern for the well-being of Afghanistan.

According to the ACSOR poll, 70 percent of Afghans say that the Taliban is the biggest threat to their country, and 68 percent support the presence of the international Coalition forces in Afghanistan.

It is absolutely false to state that the condition of women in Afghanistan is worse now than it was under the Taliban. 25 percent of the members of Afghanistan's Parliament are women, girls go to school, women doctors are practicing in hospitals and clinics, and there are battered women's shelters where women in Bibi Ayesha's situation can take refuge and get help to rebuild their lives. All of this would instantly disappear if the Taliban is allowed to return to power.

Finally, the mass amnesia taking hold across this country, which has liberals and conservatives alike chanting that negotiations should be conducted with "moderate Taliban," is pure delusion. The Taliban in Pakistan, who have burned down 170 schools and shuttered 4,000 more, who have assassinated hundreds of tribal leaders, killed government officials, aid workers, teachers, doctors, and school children are the same Taliban who have infiltrated Afghanistan. A glance across the border to northwest Pakistan is all that is needed for proof that the Taliban have an agenda that is anything but "moderate."

Withdrawing troops will not result in the arrival or creation of an army of nurses, teachers, and agricultural workers. It will bring an instantaneous halt to reconstruction and the training of those people. And it will conclusively prove that so-called peace activists don't give a damn about the suffering of Afghan women.