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Inspired by their mom these sisters share the same dream. The Taliban shattered it for one of them


Inspired by their mother, Afghan sisters Sadaf and Zolheja dream of becoming businesswomen. But for now, only Sadaf appears poised to fulfill that ambition, while Zolheja has been thwarted by the Taliban’s ban on women attending universities

“It seems that I have to bury all my goals,” Zolheja, 19, told NBC News via WhatsApp from her home in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, earlier this year, adding that she has been forced to give up her business management course after the ban came into effect last month. (NBC News has verified the sisters’ identities but agreed not to use their last name because they fear reprisals from the Taliban.) 

She said she now spends her days “thinking, crying, searching and trying to apply for scholarships so that I can get the chance to go somewhere else to study.” 

“I will go anywhere,” she said.

Her older sister, Sadaf, 21, said that she was evacuated from Afghanistan in August 2021, shortly after the Taliban seized power. She added that she was eligible to emigrate to the United States because of her work at a nongovernmental organization that focused on education and is now studying business management on a scholarship at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma.  

“I had to do this, I had to come here to support my family,” she said. 

Afghan people sit as they wait to leave Kabul airport in August 2021.Wakil Kohsar / AFP via Getty Images

Though the Taliban initially promised a more moderate rule and pledged to respect the rights of women and minorities, they have implemented their strict interpretation of Islamic law, or the Sharia, since they took control. As a result, the country has become the most repressive in the world for women and girls, deprived of many of their basic rights, the United Nations said Wednesday.

Women have been barred from most fields of employment, ordered to wear head-to-toe clothing in public and prevented from using parks and gyms. After banning girls from middle school and high school last spring, the Taliban began enforcing a higher education ban on women in December by blocking their access to universities. 

Zolheja said she found out about the ban when she arrived at her university and was blocked from entering, along with many other female students.

“The day that they announced the ban, I felt like they killed us,” she said. “We are humans, we need to live the way we want to, not the way that Taliban wants us to live.”

Her mother was particularly sad for her,…

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