Malala Shares Photo Of Her 2012 Gunshot Wound From Taliban, Says Doctors Still Repairing Damage
You would’ve read in countless news reports how the United States of American exiting Afghanistan and the resultant takeover by the Taliban has brought the country’s situation back to square one. What was square one? It’s a bundle of very horrific realities for the Afghan people, particularly women who were denied basic human rights like education, subjected to punishments like stoning and beheading, and treated as second-class citizens. For those who’ve lived these horrors first hand, like activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan brings back the nightmarish past in a vivid, scary manner. And Malala is using some powerful flashbacks to remind the world of the urgency to rescue Afghan women from the clutches of the Taliban.
As you know, in 2012, Malala was shot in the head while she was on a school bus, by a member of the Pakistani Taliban because she was a strong voice advocating for girls’ education and speaking up agains an extremist ban imposed on it. It has taken nine years worth of surgeries in Britain to heal, recuperate and restore Malala’s damaged face and facial functions. Now imagine the wounds feeling green again, as she witnessed the Taliban swiftly take over Afghanistan once the US troops moved out.
In Podium blog post dated August 24, 2021, Malala wrote about how she was in fact undergoing her sixth surgery in Boston, two weeks ago, when she saw the news that Kunduz became the first city to fall to the Taliban. She then went on to share a detailed account of the events that unfolded back in 2012, after she was shot. From the emergency action taken by the doctors of Peshawar that saved her life to the multiple surgeries that she had to undergo to treat the wounds on her back, the facial paralysis and repairing of her facial nerve so her face could regain some of its original appearance back.
“I touched my abdomen; it felt hard and stiff. I asked the nurse if there was a problem with my stomach. She informed me that when the Pakistani surgeons removed part of my skull bone, they relocated it in my stomach and that, one day, I would have another surgery to put it back in my head.
But the U.K. doctors eventually decided to fit a titanium plate where my skull bone had been, reducing the risk of infection, in a procedure called a cranioplasty. They took the piece of my skull out of my stomach. Today it sits on my bookshelf,” writes Malala.
— Malala (@Malala) August 24, 2021
She shared the blog post on her social media with a photo of her from 2012, with her head bandaged and patch of her hair shaved, as she sat in a hospital bed.
As Malala mentions, she got lucky that she was at least a little known in the Pakistani and international media circles when the incident happened in 2012. And that helped her get the medical attention that she needed at the right time, even though her family could not afford it. She shared pictures of her writing in a notebook, asking her family how they were going to afford it all. But it was all possible because there was media attention on her story. The world was watching, carrying placards in her name and protesting, so she could get justice.
However, as the Taliban begins to snag the agency of Afghan women today, there are many who might raise their voice like Malala did but won’t perhaps be saved or get their pleas heard by the International media. It’s a difficult reality that on one end, as we talk bout progress, conquering the final frontier of space, and launching robots that do our housework, in one part of the world, women will be pushed back into the dark ages and confined to their homes.
“My body has scars from one bullet and many surgeries, but I have no memory of that day. Nine years later, my best friend still has nightmares,” concludes Malala. And you feel a shiver run down your spine because it is unfathomable what the women of Afghanistan might be going through right now as their future goes dark.