Before the prosthetics: Aesha's journey continues
My husband works some in prosthetics. I remember walking around Hanger’s Prosthetics lab being completely amazed by what they do there. There were hands that completely freaked my kids out, laying on a shelf, looking completely lifelike with hair and freckles and imperfections of the skin. Beyond the more typical leg and arm prosthetics, we also saw examples of ears and noses, as well as pictures of the people who wore them. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, I’m so glad for these prosthetics – they are amazing. They change someone’s life.”
And yes, these prosthetics do change people’s lives – legs help amputees run marathons, arms are made both functional and to look “natural” and facial features are made (like ears and noses) to complete a face that either was born with a deformity or had parts of it lost for some reason. That is truly amazing! No doubt about it. However, in reading about Aesha Mohammadzai, I was reminded of the other part of the story – the “before the prosthetic” part, the “wait, that was never supposed to happen” part, the WHY she needs nose and ear prosthetics.
Aesha Mohammadzai’s worth wasn’t taken from her the day her Taliban husband and in-laws hacked off her nose and ears four years ago. Her worth was taken from her since the day she was born. In a culture where women are commonly seen as property and girls are often oppressed and cast off at birth, her worth was determined by how much she was bought for in marriage at age 14. Furthermore, her years of abuse, being beaten like a dog, she was told how much she was worth when she dared to escape – resulting in her sentence of face disfiguration by the Taliban. Her face shocked the nation as a profile of Taliban control on Time Magazine.
It has been four years of emotional and physical turmoil ever since, and fortunately, some slow healing. Aesha’s prosthetic nose is almost complete. Seven surgeries are required to rebuild her nose, as new skin is growing along with a new life. Ear operations will begin after that. A day will come when people who don’t know her, won’t know anything ever happened to her. That is truly AMAZING. How wonderful that is… but let us never forget…
We can’t just let the beauty of women be cut off, piece by piece! It starts by what we allow to happen in their souls and everyday lives: what worth is demonstrated in how they are treated, what opportunities they have, what violence or oppression they are expected to put up with. I am in awe of this woman’s courage and beauty. Her voice has risen up out of this tragedy from a culture where she could die for it.
Most of us have a voice, without fear of death of mutilation. But, have we used it? Let us echo the hopes of Strong Women, Strong World as we support “sustainable change in some of the most difficult places in the world to be a girl or a woman.”
Let us hope we can help change it for the next girl, for her face and heart is worth it.
by Anna Goodworth, WOV Hartford, CT