Sonita Alizadeh: the Afghan Protesting Through Rap
Sonita Alizadeh - Brides For Sale (YouTube): She was just 10-years-old the first time her parents tried to sell her as a child bride. She turned to music and began recording raps protesting against child marriage. In 2014, she uploaded a YouTube video called "Brides for Sale" which shows her protesting the Afghan practice of selling child brides She earned a full scholarship to study music in the US, and is now an activist, as well as Afghanistan's youngest female rapper. 'I wasn’t sad then because I didn’t know what she was talking about,' she told BBC journalist and former child bride Zarghuna Kargar of her mother's first attempt to sell her, adding that the experience was like 'dress-up'.
The teen, whose family fled war-torn Afghanistan for Iran when she was eight, luckily had her first arranged marriage fall through, but when she was 16, her mother once again told her she had to marry a man she didn't know. Sonita's mother came to see her in Tehran, and told her she had to return to Afghanistan because her brother needed $7,000 for a dowry, and the family could make $9,000 from selling her.
'I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t speak', she said of learning the news. 'When my mother told me they [would] have to sell me, my heart broke down.'
A documentary, called Sonita, premiered at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam in November and had its US premiere at Sundance in January. It screens in Toronto at Isabel Bader Theatre on April 30, and TIFF Bell Lightbox on May 1 and 6.