Photo of disfigured Afghan woman outrages America

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The Independent US

A shocking picture of an 18-year-old Afghan woman whose nose was hacked off after she fled an abusive husband has stirred up the long-running controversy over whether Nato forces should negotiate with the Taliban.

The girl in the picture, which appears on the front of Time magazine this week, also had her ears cut off in the horrifying attack. She is only named in the magazine as Aisha. Tracked to a house where she had taken refuge, she was brought before a judge, who was also a Taliban commander, and rejected her explanation of why she had run away. She was held down by her brother-in-law while her husband used a knife to cut off her ears and nose. Aisha has since taken refuge in a secret women's shelter in Kabul where she expresses terror that the government is seeking a deal with the Taliban.

The use of the picture, next to the headline "What happens if we leave Afghanistan", has already drawn strong praise and criticism alike in the US. Writing on the Slate website, the columnist Tom Scocca called the picture "gut-wrenching" but suggested that "a correct and accurate caption would be 'What is still happening, even though we are in Afghanistan'".

But at the website Salon, Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote that "we can applaud Time... Aisha is a survivor of atrocity. She's a tool of persuasion. And she's a hell of a photograph."

During Taliban rule in 1996-2001 women were reduced to a condition close to slavery. As the Taliban have grown in strength since 2006 they have attacked girls' schools and teachers. Several women have been killed and many have had to give up their jobs.

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