After the Taliban closed universities for women in Afghanistan, my only hope was to study abroad on a scholarship. This was said by 20-year-old Afghan girl Natkai.
Natkai has changed his name for security reasons. The Taliban have cracked down on women who oppose them.
Naatkai says that he continued to study even though there were few opportunities to attend university in his home country.
He later received a scholarship from Emirati billionaire businessman Sheikh Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor to study at Dubai University in the United Arab Emirates.
The scholarship for Afghan women was announced in December 2022 after the Taliban banned women from universities.
The BBC has learned that a total of 100 Afghan women have been successful in obtaining the scholarship. Some Afghan students living abroad have already moved to Dubai.
On August 23, Naatkai left his family at the airport. But his hope was dashed.
“When the Taliban officials saw our tickets and student visas, they said that women are not allowed to leave Afghanistan on student visas,” she said.
Like Natkai, 60 people were turned away from the airport.
BBC footage shows young women wearing black hijabs standing next to their luggage looking stunned and devastated.
The Taliban has imposed a ban on women traveling alone. If someone wants to go out of the country, he should take his husband or brother, or uncle, or father with him. It is called Mahram. Which means male partner. But many could not make it even with this male partner.
Dubai University and Al Habtoor, the businessman who gave the scholarship, confirmed that Afghan women cannot go to the Emirates after receiving the scholarship. Al Habtoor criticized the Taliban government’s decision in a video message on Exe (formerly Twitter).
Heather Barr of Human Rights Watch said the Taliban have already stopped women and girls from getting an education. The new step in their cruelty is not allowing women to study outside the country.