“A good girl in Afghanistan should be silent, should not talk about her future, should listen to your family, be like a doll so that everyone can play with her,” says 18-year-old Sonita Alizadeh, an Afghan rapper and activist, during an interview at London’s Women of the World summit last week.
Alizadeh escaped child marriage at the age of 10, which is a common practice in Afghanistan, and decided to fight for her rights by way of her music.
A $9000 price was fixed on Alizadeh’s head even without asking her if she wanted to get married, let alone asking whom to marry. Compared to her brother, Alizadeh says, she has no value as a girl child. Her mother, who had settled the price, felt “helpless” and had “no other way” out; she herself was married at the age of 13 to Alizadeh’s father, a much older man.
She left for Iran after fleeing from the war in Afghanistan and worked as a bathroom cleaner.
It was in Iran she made her first video which was uploaded onto YouTube last year. The song titled “Brides for sale” shows her face covered with bruises and a bar code which symbolizes that women come with a price tag. Alizadeh says that her friend who was a victim of domestic violence was an inspiration behind the video.
“We were talking about how the music video should be, and one of my friends sitting next to me, had bruises on her face and she was quiet. When I looked at her, I imagined the music video in my mind and I wanted to show the horror story of millions of girls around the world,” she says.
Alizadeh uses music to register protest against this Afghani practice of marrying off girls at an young age. Her mother, who initially despised her for planning to sing, is now a fan after watching the video.
Now, the Afghan rapper has received a full scholarship to study music at Wasatch Academy in Utah, and a documentary film on her life titled “Sonita” is slated to premiere at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.
Watch the video of the song: