TIME magazine’s current cover features the mutilated but still beautiful face of Aisha, an 18 year old Afghan woman whose Taliban husband, a man who literally bought her as a slave when she was just 10 years old, cut off her nose and ears as punishment for fleeing his abuse. Overlaid on Aisha’s striking picture is the headline: ‘What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan.’ Inside, journalist Aryn Baker writes about what has changed for women in Afghanistan since 2001, and what has not. The professional women she interviews, and survivors like Aisha, express alarm at the prospect of the Taliban returning.
There’s nothing untrue in the article, and, unlike so many other journalists, Baker doesn’t condescend to the Afghan women she interviews. Yet, the cover photo and the article have generated a storm of controversy in the blogosphere, with Irin Carmon of Jezebel and Derrick Crowe of Return Good for Evil leading the criticism with long arguments against the TIME’s choices.