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Afghan girl featured in Time magazine arrives in L.A.

August 6, 2010 |  4:11 pm

An Afghan girl featured on the Aug. 9 cover of Time magazine after her nose was cut off arrived in the Southland this week for treatment by local doctors.

The 18-year-old, identified only as Bibi Aisha (Miss Aisha), told Time her nose and ears were cut off by her abusive husband — with Taliban approval — to punish her for running away.

The controversial photo appeared beside the headline, "What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan."
Dr. Peter H. Grossman, co-director of the Grossman Burn Centers based in Sherman Oaks, said his wife, Rebecca Grossman, who chairs the Calabasas-based Grossman Burn Foundation, saw Aisha on television and knew they could help her.

The foundation paid to bring Aisha to Los Angeles on Thursday, found a host family for her to stay with and is funding her treatment, Grossman said. That could include a prosthetic nose or reconstruction of her nose and ears using bone, tissue and cartilage from the rest of her body, he said.

“What I’d love to be able to do with Aisha is to give her a permanent solution from her own body,” said Grossman, who planned to meet with her in the coming days.

Women for Afghan Women, a nonprofit based in Fresh Meadows, N.Y., has been using Aisha's case to illustrate what is at stake for Afghan women if international forces leave the country. The group runs a shelter that cared for Aisha for nearly a year, according to staff and a statement posted on their website by Executive Director Manizha Naderi.

“Bibi Aisha decided to put her damaged face before the world to show what ordeals, and worse, millions of women and girls in Afghanistan will suffer if the Taliban take over the country,” Naderi wrote. “Bibi herself wants her suffering to have meaning beyond her personal pain. She has never been to school and may never have heard the term ‘human rights,’ but she wanted to reveal her wounds to the world because she fully understands what the Taliban mean for women.”

Aisha had been given away by her Pashtun family in Oruzgan province at age 12 to pay a debt and married to a Taliban fighter, according to the Time article and staff at Women for Afghan Women. She fled, but her husband tracked her down last year and cut off her nose.

She was left for dead, but managed to make her way to a shelter in Kabul, where she stayed until Wednesday, when she boarded a plane to the United States to receive treatment at the Grossman Burn Center in West Hills.

Stacy Tillis, executive director of the Grossman Burn Foundation that is supporting Aisha’s treatment, said Aisha was “getting situated” Thursday.

“Bibi’s arrival in the U.S. will not be a purely joyful occasion,” Naderi wrote. “We worry about her sister, who was destined to the same hell that Bibi endured: being handed over as payment to another family. We worry that Bibi’s father has replaced the now-missing Bibi with another girl. There is no way to help them or other women in Taliban-controlled territories.”

Aisha will be treated by Dr. Peter Grossman, a plastic surgeon and co-director of the Grossman Burn Centers, according to foundation development director Linda Babaian.
Aisha could not be reached for comment Friday.

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske