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Afghan girl finds healing in America

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 17th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Aesha Mohammadzai once had her photo on the cover of Time magazine. While for most people this would be a proud occasion, it was extraordinarily emotional for Aesha. Aesha was the victim of a brutal attack in Afghanistan, in 2010. Now, she is working hard to recover her life in America.

LOS ANGELES (Catholic Online) - Aesha was attacked by her husband and in-laws, who chose to brutalize her by cutting off her nose and ears, and leaving her for dead. She was found, and taken to a hospital in Afghanistan.

When reporters learned of her ordeal, they interviewed her at the hospital. Aesha appeared on the cover of Time magazine, sans nose and ears. Disfigured and left for dead, Aesha became the face of the oppression of Afghan women.

Today, CNN published a story that details her present struggle to recover her life as well as the graphic images captured by reporters.

According to the story, Aesha is undergoing extensive facial reconstruction surgery. Doctors are concentrating on building a new nose for her. Meanwhile, Aesha is adjusting to her new life in the United States and the sometimes painful treatments she endures.

Aesha told reporters that she was married into an Afghan Taliban family when she was 15 or 16 to settle a debt. She has never been entirely sure of her age, having never celebrated a birthday.

After being released from the hospital in Afghanistan she was brought to America. She stayed with families in Southern California and New York, before settling down a year ago with an Afghan American family in Frederick, Maryland.

Aesha has managed to fit in, but she has had a number of emotional struggles.

In addition to the emotional challenges, the surgical procedures have been intense. Plastic surgeons have put her through three major surgeries as well as countless minor procedures to perform the work of reconstruction. She is now halfway through the process.

Despite all the difficulty, Aesha and her new family seem to be getting along well. Aesha is a social and otherwise a normal young woman who doesn't mind showing her scars to the world if it means awakening people to the plight of women in Afghanistan.

Aesha is undergoing treatment today at a Bethesda, Maryland hospital. Even though the scars will be fixed, it is difficult to imagine Aesha ever making a full recovery. What is even more troubling to consider, is the fact that there are millions of women that are routinely humiliated in Afghan society and in misogynistic societies around the world.

It is hoped by Aesha and many others, that the sharing of her painful journey will help raise awareness of this terrible reality and help some day to bring it to an end.

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