Bitcoin, Financial Freedom In Afghanistan

Roya Mahboob — the first female Afghan tech CEO, one of TIME’s most influential people in the world and one of the first entrepreneurs to introduce Bitcoin to Afghanistan — was seven years old when the Taliban first took over her country and invaded her hometown in 1996.

One day she was playing with her bicycle in her front yard, wearing her favorite red scarf, when a bunch of armed men showed up in a jeep, screaming at her father in a language she did not understand. After that, she was not allowed to go outside and play anymore.

“My family took my scarf away, and forced me to wear a black dress,” she said, “just like all the other girls.”

A few days later, the Taliban returned. Its members rolled down her street, armed to the teeth, and went home by home, going into each house by force, looking for any signs of books or television sets.

“If they found any books, they would take them out to the front yard and set them on fire,” Mahboob said. “If they found any VHS tapes, they would set those on fire too.”

She said the most jarring part was that she could no longer go to school. Instead, she was forced to go to the mosque, and study the Quran, and sit through lectures from a mullah who could not even read. For her, all paths to knowledge had been closed, and all bridges to the outside world had been burned down.