Time Magazine — August 9, 2010
Our cover image this week is powerful, shocking and disturbing. It is a portrait of Aisha, a shy 18-year-old Afghan woman who was sentenced by a Taliban commander to have her nose and ears cut off for fleeing her abusive in-laws. Aisha posed for the picture and says she wants the world to see the effect a Taliban resurgence would have on the women of Afghanistan, many of whom have flourished in the past few years. Her picture is accompanied by a powerful story by our own Aryn Baker on how Afghan women have embraced the freedoms that have come from the defeat of the Taliban — and how they fear a Taliban revival.While it may be true that violence against women is a serious reality for many in Afganistan, I'm left wondering if it is doing any good to use such images to sell magazines or promote propaganda. This image is disturbing, it's powerful, but is it a fair representation of what's really going on? How does our military presence in the country really help to end the gender-violence and reverse the centuries of gender inequality that exist? Another issue that didn't strike me as an issue until I read this recent post on Feministing, was why are we focusing on the image of the woman, and not what she is actually saying? To be more clear, we are to feel outrage over the damaged image, and not the true issues such as access to education, medicine, religious gatherings, marriage laws, child marriage, divorce laws, domestic violence and the list goes on. I'd like to see a more competent cover, one that doesn't depend on shock value, but rather one that instead focuses on the women themselves and the oppression they face; this cover tells me nothing of the Afghan woman's struggle besides the fact that some aspect of her outer beauty was tarnished... or at the very least, give me a subhead that talks about the issues at hand. I haven't read the article, and don't have immediate access to Time, but if I do, I'll be sure to add additional commentary. Feel free to disagree; I'd love to hear your comments.