|Known for||Rapping for Afghan women's rights|
|“Sonita ...brides for sale”, Sonita Alizadeh|
|“Watch rapper Sonita Alizadeh perform live in New York City“, Women in the World|
|“Meet Afghanistan's youngest female rapper, Sonita Alizadeh“, Women in the World|
Sonita Alizadeh is an Afghan rapper and activist who has been vocal against forced marriages. Alizadeh first gained attention when she released "Brides for Sale," a video in which she raps about daughters being sold into marriage by their families. By help of Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami, an Iranian documentary filmmaker who over three years documented her remarkable story in the film Sonita, Alizadeh filmed the video to escape a marriage her parents were planning for her, even though it is illegal for women to sing publicly in Iran, where she was living at the time. After releasing the video on YouTube, Alizadeh was contacted by the Strongheart Group, that offered her a student visa and financial help to come and study in the United States of America, where she then has relocated to and resided since.
Alizadeh grew up in Herat, Afghanistan, under the rule of the Taliban. Her family first considered selling her as a bride when she was 10. Alizadeh has said that at the time, she didn't fully understand what that meant. Instead, her family fled to Iran to escape the Taliban. In Iran, Alizadeh worked cleaning bathrooms, while she taught herself to read and write. During this time, she also discovered the music of Iranian rapper Yas and American rapper Eminem. Inspired by their music, she started writing her own songs. In 2014, Alizadeh entered a U.S. competition to write a song to get Afghan people to vote in their elections. She won a $1,000 prize, which Alizadeh sent to her mother, who had moved back to Afghanistan.
"Brides for Sale"
Shortly after winning the competition, Alizadeh's mother sent for her to return to Afghanistan, saying she had found a man to buy her. She was 16. Her mother was trying to earn a $9,000 dowry so that her elder brother could purchase a bride, and thought she could get at least $9,000 by selling her own daughter. After Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami, director of the documentary Sonita, paid $2,000 to Sonita's mother and asked for six months of time for Sonita, she wrote "Brides for Sale" and Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami filmed the music video, which gained a lot of international attention. The video was not only popular with women in Afghanistan, but also drew the attention of the nonprofit Strongheart Group, which reached out to Alizadeh to bring her to the U.S.
Alizadeh currently lives in Washington DC and attends American University. In addition to attending classes, she continues to write songs. A documentary, called Sonita, premiered at the International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam in November 2015.
The film gained positive reviews. The film was entered into the Sundance Film Festival, and won the Grand Jury Prize; at the Seattle International Film Festival (May, 2016) the film has played to a full house, with exceptionally good response.
- Marusic, Kristina (October 12, 2015). "This Afghan Teen Escaped Forced Marriage By Making a Rap Video". MTV. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
- Bloom, Deborah (October 12, 2015). "Afghan teen uses rap to escape forced marriage". CNN. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
- Wainwright, Robert (October 8, 2015). "Afghan teen rapper was 10 when her mother first considered selling her". The New York Times. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
- 'Sonita': IDFA Review