The now-famous portrait of an Afghan woman whose husband sliced off her nose and ears in a case of Taliban-administered justice won the World Press Photo award for 2010 Friday, one of photojournalism’s most coveted prizes.
The image, captured by South African photographer Jodi Bieber which graced the August 2010 cover of TIME Magazine, tells the harrowing tale of 18-year-old Bibi Aisha who the Taliban hunted down after she ran away from her abusive husband’s house. After a “trial,” a Taliban commander pronounced his guilty verdict. The punishment: Bibi’s brother-in-law held her down as her husband sliced off her ears, cut off her nose, and left her to die.
“It’s an incredibly strong image. It sends out an enormously powerful message to the world, about the 50% of the population that are women, so many of whom still live in miserable conditions, suffering violence,” Ruth Eichhorn, a member of the award’s jury, said.
Even more than that, however, the photo is a stark reminder of what life is like under a repressive, radical regime such as the Taliban in Afghanistan. As the war in Afghanistan lingers and U.S. policymakers mull over various exit strategies, including talking with the Taliban, they should take into consideration the question that Bibi’s picture begs: What will happen if the U.S. leaves with the Taliban still in control of parts of the country?