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Mutilated Afghan debuts her newly reconstructed face

Last updated on: February 27, 2013 21:39 IST

Three years after she became an emblem of the brutality of the Taliban, a young Afghan woman, who had her nose and ears sliced off as punishment for running away from her abusive husband, has unveiled her reconstructed face to the world.

Aesha Mohammadzai emerged as an emblem of the horrors of the Taliban when her mutilated face appeared on the cover of Time magazine in August 2010.

Now, she has begun a new chapter in her life after doctors at BethesdaNavalHospital near Washington succeeded in rebuilding her nose using skin from her forehead and her arm.

Aesha, now 22 or 23, unveiled her new face on British TV to send a message to abused women across the world.

"I want to tell all women who are suffering abuse to be strong," Aesha told UK's ITV channel.

"Never give up and don't lose hope," she said.

To create the new nose for her, doctors implanted a small disk into Aesha's forehead and slowly filled it with fluid to create a balloon of skin, a plastic surgeon had told CNN last year.

After undergoing several surgeries, doctors rebuilt the inner nose using tissue from her forearm and rib cage.

A jagged scar runs down Aesha's forehead, and healing will take time. Aesha told ITV she's "happy" with her new face.

Traded to a Taliban fighter to settle a family debt when she was 12, Aesha was beaten, forced to perform slave labour and made to sleep with her husband family's livestock.

"Every day I was abused by my husband and his family. Mentally and physically," she told ITV through a translator.

"Then one day it became unbearable so I ran away."

She was eventually caught and thrown in jail for five months, she New York Daily News quoted the ITV report as saying.

"When I came out the judge sent me back to my husband. That night they took me to the mountains," she said.

"They tied my hands and my feet. They said my punishment was to cut my nose and ears. And then they started to do it."

She was eventually found and ended up being taken in by American aid workers.

She was flown to the US in 2010 and spent time in California and New York, where she was cared for by an organisation, Women for Afghan Women.

Aesha now lives with a family in Frederick, Maryland and is studying English.

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