Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Photographs: Afghan Girl

In 1985 National Geographic featured a cover photo by Steve McCurry of a 12 year old girl with striking eyes who came to be known simply as Afghan Girl, the title of the photo in the magazine. Her name and identity were unknown. McCurry had taken her photograph (the first time she had been photographed) in a refugee camp in Pakistan after she had walked overland for 2 weeks from Afghanistan. She had been orphaned as a result of an attack by Soviet gunships on her village. The photo became a symbol of the Afghan conflict and the plight of refugees worldwide.
In 2002 National Geographic sent a team to seek to locate the girl, which they eventually did in a remote part of Afghanistan. Her name was Sharbat Gula (meaning “Rose Sherbet”), she had left the refugee camp in 1992 and was now married with 3 daughters. Iris scanning established that she was the same person as in the 1984 photograph, necessary in that various other persons had also claimed to be her National Geographic ran a story about her in a 2002 issue and set up a charitable fund for educating young Afghan girls, later varied to also include young boys.

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