Bibi Aisha (Pashto: بی بی عایشه; Bibi is a term of respect meaning "Lady"; born Aisha Mohammadzai, legal name Aesha Mohammadzai) is an Afghan woman whose mutilated face appeared on the cover of Time magazine in summer 2010. Her story first appeared in the Daily Beast in December 2009, which prompted doctors to write in offering to help her. The Grossman Burn Foundation in California pledged to perform reconstructive surgery on her and began organizing for her visa in the early spring of 2010. Diane Sawyer of ABC News also covered her ordeal in March 2010.
In a practice known as baad, Aisha's father promised her to a Taliban fighter when she was 12 years old as compensation for a killing that a member of her family had committed. She was married at 14 and subjected to constant abuse. At 18, she fled the abuse but was caught by police, jailed, and returned to her family. Her father returned her to her in-laws. To take revenge on her escape, her father-in-law, husband, and three other family members took Aisha into the mountains, cut off her nose and her ears, and left her to die. Bibi was later rescued by aid workers and the U.S. military. Some sources disputed the role of any members of the Taliban in her mutilation at the time it happened.
Aisha was featured on an August 2010 cover of Time magazine and in a corresponding article, "Afghan Women and the Return of the Taliban."
The cover image generated enormous controversy.
The image and the accompanying cover title, "What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan," fueled debate about the merits of the Afghan War.
The photo was taken by the South African photographer Jodi Bieber and was awarded the World Press Photo Award for 2010. The image of Aisha is sometimes compared to the 'Afghan Girl' photograph of Sharbat Gula taken by Steve McCurry.
Shortly after Time's cover ran, Aisha was flown to the United States to receive free reconstructive surgery.
In May 2012 CNN.com ran an article about Aisha's activity. Since coming to the United States in August 2010, surgeons concluded she is mentally incompetent to handle the patient responsibilities in the surgical recovery regimen. Her psychologist, Shiphra Bakhchi, diagnosed her with borderline personality disorder, which may have been innately pre-existing throughout her life. She was taken in by the Women for Afghan Women shelter in Queens, New York and has subsequently moved to a family situation in Maryland.
The May 2012 CNN article by Jessica Ravitz explored the challenges faced by Aisha during her integration into a globalized world. "[S]he's been passed around by well-meaning strangers, showcased like a star and shielded like a fragile child," Ravitz reports. Its focus on Aisha as an autonomous person, rather than a poster child, serves as a portrait of the difficulties faced by trauma survivors and those that assist them.