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Burqas and bikinis

Time magazine’s cover is the latest cynical attempt to oversimplify the reality of Afghan lives

by Priyamvada Gopal        August 3, 2010

Reprising a legendary 1985 National Geographic cover, this week’s Time magazine cover girl is another beautiful young Afghan woman. But this time there is a gaping hole where her nose used to be before it was cut off under Taliban direction. A stark caption reads: “What Happens If We Leave Afghanistan”. A careful editorial insists that the image is not shown “either in support of the US war effort or in opposition to it”. The stated intention is to counterbalance damaging the WikiLeaks revelations – 91,000 documents that, Time believes, cannot provide “emotional truth and insight into the way life is lived in that difficult land”.

Feminists have long argued that invoking the condition of women to justify occupation is a cynical ploy, and the Time cover already stands accused of it. Interestingly, the WikiLeaks documents reveal CIA advice to use the plight of Afghan women as “pressure points”, an emotive way to rally flagging public support for the war. Read more

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