Every so often, the news media are the news makers. That’s the case this week as Time Magazine has printed a controversial cover of an Afghan woman, Aisha. The photo depicts the 18-year old woman whose nose and ears were cut off by the Taliban for running away from abusive in-laws.
Time Magazine’s editor, Richard Stengel addressed the decision to publish the photo in an interview with Katie Couric and in the issue itself. He says that he understands that some children may see the photo and be frightened and some adults will be disturbed by it, too. Others may think that using this photo as the cover will be nothing more than politicizing a serious issue and exploiting the innocent victims of war and oppression. But the point was to start a conversation on what the role of the United States and its allies should be. More importantly, should any type of deal be struck with the Taliban in reshaping the country’s future?
While I completely support and am grateful for the brave men and women who protect the lives of civilians, war always puts a bad taste in my mouth. I’m not sure that armed conflict is the way to solve any crises. I favor diplomacy, and above all, I favor education.
I hear numbers tossed around all the time about how many children we could educate if we had spent money on books instead of guns. I think about how many lives could literally and figuratively have been saved by building schools instead of sending children to military camps. And I wonder what could happen to a generation of young girls if the boys they were growing up with were given a good education instead of feeling as if they have to join a dangerous regime in order to help their families get by. And what would happen if women were able to teach their young girls about self-confidence, worth and the importance of educating themselves.
I can’t say that Aisha is anything less than an extraordinarily brave woman. She ran when she had to, and still she prevails to be the face for women who are calling out for something better than what they have, something that they deserve not just because they’ve been in a horrible situation but because they are women who deserve dignity and respect not only from the people who live in their country but from everyone who is willing to listen to their story.
I wish that I had more eloquent words for Aisha, but in this case, I think that a photo is indeed worth a thousand words.