Impressed by their mom, Afghan sisters Sadaf and Zolheja dream of changing into businesswomen. However for now, solely Sadaf seems poised to meet that ambition, whereas Zolheja has been thwarted by the Taliban’s ban on girls attending universities.
“Plainly I’ve to bury all my targets,” Zolheja, 19, advised NBC Information by way of WhatsApp from her residence in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, earlier this 12 months, including that she has been compelled to surrender her enterprise administration course after the ban got here into impact final month. (NBC Information has verified the sisters’ identities however agreed to not use their final identify as a result of they concern reprisals from the Taliban.)
She stated she now spends her days “pondering, crying, looking and making an attempt to use for scholarships in order that I can get the possibility to go someplace else to review.”
“I’ll go anyplace,” she stated.
Her older sister, Sadaf, 21, stated that she was evacuated from Afghanistan in August 2021, shortly after the Taliban seized energy. She added that she was eligible to to migrate to america due to her work at a nongovernmental group that centered on training and is now finding out enterprise administration on a scholarship on the College of Tulsa in Oklahoma.
“I had to do that, I needed to come right here to assist my household,” she stated.
Although the Taliban initially promised a extra reasonable rule and pledged to respect the rights of ladies and minorities, they’ve applied their strict interpretation of Islamic legislation, or the Sharia, since they took management. Because of this, the nation has develop into probably the most repressive on the earth for ladies and women, disadvantaged of a lot of their primary rights, the United Nations stated Wednesday.
Ladies have been barred from most fields of employment, ordered to put on head-to-toe clothes in public and prevented from utilizing parks and gymnasiums. After banning women from center college and highschool final spring, the Taliban started imposing a better training ban on girls in December by blocking their entry to universities.
Zolheja stated she came upon concerning the ban when she arrived at her college and was blocked from getting into, together with many different feminine college students.
“The day that they introduced the ban, I felt like they killed us,” she stated. “We’re people, we have to dwell the way in which we need to, not the way in which that Taliban desires us to dwell.”
Her mom was significantly unhappy for her, as a result of her personal desires had been crushed after the Taliban applied a ban on feminine training after they first got here to energy in 1996, she stated.
“She had this expertise earlier than and is aware of how a lot it hurts,” Zolheja stated.
Sadaf added that their mother had needed to renew her research after the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, prompted by the Taliban’s refusal at hand over Osama bin Laden, the Al Qaeda chief and mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist assaults.
On the time, entry to training turned obtainable for ladies throughout the nation however, Sadaf stated, she couldn’t receive paperwork proving that she had already accomplished nearly all of her research and didn’t need to begin over once more.
As an alternative, Sadaf stated, their mother stayed residence and shouldered the chores “simply so we may give attention to our research.”
Their father was additionally supportive of their instructional endeavors, she stated, including that he didn’t need them to be “girls who’re simply inside the home, cooking and cleansing.”
“I’m so grateful that I’ve dad and mom like them,” she stated.
That assist didn’t waver after the Taliban took over and, after some emotional conversations as a household, they determined it was finest for her to go away the nation with the assistance of her NGO.
“I used to be simply making an attempt to flee Afghanistan,” she stated, including that their goodbye was rushed as she launched into what can be her first journey exterior the nation from Kabul Worldwide Airport.
Via tears, her mom advised her to “keep secure,” Sadaf stated, weeping as she recalled their parting.
She added that she known as her mom from the aircraft and advised her, “I’m flying.”
After touching down in Qatar, she flew to the Ramstein Air Base in southwestern Germany, earlier than making her solution to Washington, D.C.. From there, she went to Texas after which to a camp in New Mexico the place she stayed for practically two months. Lastly, she stated, she headed to her new residence in Tulsa, the place she knew folks affiliated with the NGO she labored with in Afghanistan. (A U.S. official with information of Sadaf’s journey confirmed it to NBC Information.)
Her first actual residence within the U.S. was a dorm on the College of Tulsa, which had began a assist program for fleeing Afghans. A job as a case supervisor and interpreter at a resettlement company quickly adopted, earlier than she was accepted to the college on a full scholarship.
Sadaf stated she missed “every little thing” about her homeland, particularly her household, and the adjustment to life in Oklahoma had been tough. However whereas additionally finding out English, she earned a 4.0 GPA her first semester.
At the moment within the U.S. on a humanitarian parole standing, she stated she was making use of for asylum and hopes to use for a inexperienced card. Finally, she stated, she hopes to deliver her household to the U.S. and there are a number of methods she may do that together with the brand new Welcome Corps program, launched by the State Division final month, which can permit non-public U.S. residents to sponsor refugees.
Again in Afghanistan, the ban on feminine training stays in place regardless of worldwide condemnation from Western nations, in addition to extra hard-line Muslim majority nations. Together with Turkey, Qatar and Pakistan, Saudi Arabia — which till 2019 enforced sweeping restrictions on girls’s journey, employment and different essential points of their every day life together with driving — urged the Taliban to alter course.
The ban additionally triggered a number of protests inside Afghanistan, the place simply over 100,000 of the nation’s 20 million girls had been enrolled in larger training in 2021, based on information collected by the nation’s Schooling Ministry and printed by its Nationwide Statistics and Data Authority in Could.
To date, the Taliban have proven little signal of reversing the coverage, together with a separate ban on Afghan girls from working at nongovernmental organizations that it additionally launched final month. The group claimed feminine staff weren’t carrying the Islamic scarf appropriately.
A number of senior members of the Taliban declined to remark when requested about whether or not they are going to restore training for ladies and women. Additionally they declined to touch upon whether or not girls and women can be allowed to work for NGOs.
Whereas some Western establishments are operating digital programs for Afghan college students, in 2020 solely 18% of Afghans had web entry, based on the most recent obtainable information from the World Financial institution.
Because of this, Zolheja stated she felt like “a hen inside a cage who desires to fly however can’t,” including, “I really feel like I don’t have any cause to dwell and any good future to be ready for.”
Whereas Sadaf’s future appears lots brighter, she stays saddened by her sister’s plight and that of different girls in her homeland.
The sisters chat by way of textual content after they can — however Sadaf stated that when she is alone, ideas flood her thoughts about her household’s future, Zolheja’s particularly.