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Aesha Mohammadzai After Afghanistan

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Aesha Mohammadzai has given her first TV interview since undergoing surgery on the horrific facial wounds inflicted on her by a Taliban soldier she was forced to marry.

AESHA'S STORY

Sold by her father at 12 to a Taliban family, Aesha had no choice but to become the wife of one of its fighters at 16.

She fled, but was caught and jailed before being handed back to her then-husband, whose own brutal punishment was to cut off Aesha's nose and ears.

Recounting her her ordeal to ITV's Daybreak, she said: "Every day I was abused by my husband and his family. Mentally and physically. I thought about escaping all the time.

"Then one day it became unbearable. So I ran away. They caught me and put me in jail for five months. When I came out the judge sent me back to my husband."

The 2010 cover showing Aesha's captivating, determined eyes peering above the gaping wound where her nose should have been is one of the influential magazine's most memorable - and made the teen and her story a global talking point.

"That night they took me to the mountains. I didnt know what was going on. They tied my hands and my feet and there were other people there too - Taliban. They said my punishment was to cut my nose and ears. And then they started to do it."

LIFE AFTER TIME

Aesha had never even heard of the magazine when she agreed to have her photograph taken to highlight the Taliban's treatment of women. As her name was spreading across the globe, Time and various charities paid to fly her to America to undergo extensive surgery.

Now 21 and recovering from multiple operations, she revealed her reconstructed features to Daybreak, telling the show she was "very happy" with the remarkable results.

She added: "I want to tell all women suffering abuse to be strong and never give up."

Aesha has made the US her home, living with an adoptive family, above, in Maryland

WATCH AESHA'S MOVING INTERVIEW:

Words: Anna Pollitt. Images: Rex Features

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