Sonita Alizadeh is a rapper and activist who dedicates her life to fighting for girls who are too young to wed. She hails from Herat, Afghanistan and her family once considered selling her as a bride when she was barely 10.
Her family fled to Iran to escape the civil unrest in Afghanistan. In Iran, Sonita worked as a janitor, while she taught herself to read and write. She also found a non-profit organisation for Afghan kids and there she learned karate, photography, guitar, and began singing and rapping.
Her interest in rap music grew when she discovered the music of Iranian rapper Yas and American rapper Eminem. Sonita tells, “Rap music lets you tell your story to other people. Rap music is a platform to share the words that are in my heart.”
She soon began writing her own songs. An Iranian director, Rokhsareh Ghaem helped Sonita polish up her style and make music videos. Her music quickly got recognition and won a few awards.
Everything was fine until one day her mother told her that she had to return to Afghanistan. Her mother wanted to sell Sonita to a man in Afghanistan and use the dowry money to pay for her brother’s wedding.
Sonita was upset after hearing the news. She wrote the song ‘Brides For Sale’ where she pleads with her family not to sell her off. The video pictures Sonita wearing a wedding dress, a barcode painted on her forehead, and bruises on her face.
The music video gained a lot of international attention and even her parents were pleased with her. They also told her that she didn’t have to get married.
Her efforts landed her a full scholarship at the Wasatch Academy, a college prep school in Utah. Sonita now lives in the US, a place where she hardly imagined to be.