The Mutilated Face

HERAT, AFGHANISTAN - Nazgul, 35, a self-immolation victim sits on her hospital bed covered by her headscarf at the Herat Regional hospital November 17, 2006 in Herat, Afghanistan. The medical staff at the Herat hospital says that they have registered around 700 self-immolations cases so far this year. Hospital officials say they lack proper salaries for the nurses and doctors and suffer from a lack of medical supplies. A new burn center for the crowded hospital that was suppose to be finished in 2005 is still under construction. Afghan women are in a subordinate position in the society, where conservative Islamic laws and traditions dictate what a woman is allowed to do in a male dominated world. Forced marriages, domestic violence, poverty and lack of access to education are said to be some of the main reasons for the suicides. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

From Liisa, SMSgt Temple’s wife: Rex is still out on his mission and I’m using the space to publish some very graphic reminders of why education is so vital especially for women and young girls in Afghanistan. Many of you may have seen a report on ABC News this week about a young Afghan woman whose husband cut off her nose and ears. She was nursed back to health by U.S. military personnel and if you can stomach the gruesome images, the video story from ABC News is a thought provoking piece – you can see it here.

This story was first reported in the Western press last December by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon for The Daily Beast Blog. Here is a short excerpt:

“U.S. Air Force Major Dr. Jeff Lewis still remembers the stifling August afternoon when Nadia reached his surgical team near southern Afghanistan’s Tarin Kowt, a town long known as a Taliban stronghold.

The young woman, whose name has been changed to protect her security, had been brought to the coalition’s Forward Operating Base Ripley by her father, who hoped the base’s medical clinic could help his teenage daughter, who he said was around 17 or 18 years old.

She was missing most of her nose and both ears.”

“I have never seen anyone do something like this before to another person,” said U.S. Air Force Major Dr. Jeff Lewis.

(read more here)


But the woman at the center of these two reports is clearly not alone. Much earlier in 2007, Abudlhadi Hairan filed this article for GroundReport .

Husband cut off wife’s ears, nose on Eid day

Qalat: A man named Mumtaz in southern Zabul province of Afghanistan first shaved wife, Nazia’s head and then cut off her ears, and nose and damaged her teeth on the first day of Eid ul Adha, an Islamic ritual of sacrifice.

Hospital sources in Qalat, center of Zabul, told this scribe by phone that Nazia, 17, was admitted on Wednesday (First day of Eid) evening and now she was in a critical condition due to the severe beating she has borne. (more text + photos here)


Chelsie Vandeveer dropping off donations at WUSF Studios on March 12, 2010.

If you read through these amazing stories of women helping women, you will be inspired. And here is the latest woman who is a true source of inspiration for me. Her name is Chelsie Vandaveer and she dropped off all these school supplies yesterday at WUSF Radio and TV for Rex’s school supplies drive for Afghan children. Chelsie and her husband along with her coworkers Gracie Sharp, Sari Kondis, Dot Miner, Katie Plein, Mark Seibel, Allen Shuey, and Paco and Allison Amram at Environmental Consulting & Technology in Tampa collected all these hundreds of donated items since last September after Chelsie heard about the drive in one of Bobbie O’Brien’s My Last Tour news reports.


3 Responses

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  3. I recommend A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner.

    It is the story of Mariam, an Afghan girl who is married off to an older man and their (her) life under the Taliban.

    I finished this book while on a flight to the UK and I was so shaken I had to hide in the bathroom until I composed myself. All I could think was how grateful I was to be born an American woman.

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