Music has always been known to be one of the strongest forms of self expression. In this particular case, Sonita Alizadeh, an 18-year old girl from Afghanistan uses music as a voice for women’s rights.
According to CNN, Sonita, then 16 was a victim of forced marriage in Afghanistan.
Sonita’s brother needed a $7,000 dowry for his soon-to-be bride. Her mother thought she could get $9,000 for selling Sonita into marriage.
“I asked her, ‘How can you sell your daughter?'” she exclaims. “She said it’s tradition in our country.”
Indeed, the tradition of a bride price is practiced throughout the developing world, explains Noorjahan Akbar, an outspoken women’s rights activist. But for poorer families, Akbar says, it often translates into a practice that can harm young girls.
Devastated by this, Sonita resulted to expressing her feelings by writing a rap song. Teaming up with an Iranian filmmaker, she made a music video called “Daughters for Sale.”
After uploading the video to YouTube, Sonita was contacted by the Strongheart Group, an organization that helps individuals directly impacted by social issues tell their story. They offered to sponsor a student visa for her to come to the United States, where she could attend Wasatch Academy on a full scholarship.
Sonita, did not hesitate to jump on this opportunity. She would be able to finally get a formal education and not have to worry about being sold.
Although Sonita enjoys life in the United States, she plans to return to Afghanistan as a rapper for women’s rights. She knows it’s dangerous to be a female activist in a deeply conservative country, but, she says, “my country needs a person like me.”
“My family, they changed their minds,” Sonita says. “If I can change their minds with my music, then maybe I can change the world.”
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