The Taliban regime's ban on higher education for women could not stop 26-year-old Behishta Khairuddin from completing her post-graduate degree in chemical engineering from IIT Madras. Behishta who ran secret lab experiments with borrowed beakers in a microwave attended classes and studied day and night on a computer with a rickety internet connection.
Behishta enrolled herself in the course in 2021 as the Taliban recaptured Kabul and was stuck in her house in northern Afghanistan. Skipping hurdles posed by the Taliban and from the confines of her room, she cleared all the semesters remotely with the help of the IIT Madras faculty.
“I don't feel any regret. If you stop me, I will find another way," Behishta told TOI. Stressing the oppression imposed by the Taliban on Afghan women, she said she feels sorry for them. “You have the power. You have everything but you are not using that. It's you who should be sorry, not me," the engineer voiced.
Owing to the fallout of the government after the Taliban takeover, the IIT graduate almost missed the opportunity to get admitted to the institution even though she had already cleared the interview as her account on the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) portal had been deactivated. .
Following this, she reached out to the global engagement of IIT Madras and explained her issues to a professor in the institution through an email. The institution later granted her a scholarship and she started the program a month later.
Behishta narrated that initially, she has to struggle for two semesters as she found everything new. Mentioning that education was always a priority in her family she emphasized the need for an education system in Afghanistan.