The Afghan girl who haunted the world with her eyes

Twenty-seven years ago photographer Steve McCurry snapped a photo of a young girl who would become known the world over as the ‘Afghan Girl’.

McCurry was documenting the ordeal of Afghanistan’s refugees in Pakistan, and took what he thought was going to be just another shot of a sad, refugee child.

But this photo was different.

It would go on to grace the cover of National Geographic in June 1985 and be heralded as “the most recognized photograph” in the history of the magazine.

The girl with kaleidoscope eyes became a symbol of the 1980s Afghan conflict.

Those who came across her photo, myself included, couldn’t help but wonder who she was.

McCurry made several attempts in the 90s to locate her but was unsuccessful.

Then, in 2002, a National Geographic team traveled to Afghanistan to find her.

The search for the Afghan girl turned up many false leads but eventually she was found, and the identity of the woman whose eyes had haunted the world for so long was finally revealed.

Though time has changed the plains of her face, and the hardships of living in war-torn Afghanistan have aged her, the Afghan girl is just as beautiful as ever.

And her name is Sharbat Gula.

To read the feature article on Gula – A Life Revealed by Cathy Newman click here.


NB: Photographs by Steve McCurry


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