"When My Mother Told Me They Had To Sell Me, My Heart Broke Down"

Photo: Bas Czerwinski/Getty Images.
Sonita Alizadeh escaped being a child bride. Now she's pursuing a career in rap.
Sonita Alizadeh says she was just 10 years old when her parents initially tried to find her a husband. Sadly, it wasn't the first time the teen would face the prospect of a forced marriage. With no money for the dowry needed to secure her brother a bride, Alizadeh's parents sought on multiple occasions to find a suitor who would pay to have her as a wife of his own.

“When my mother told me they had to sell me, my heart broke down," she recalled in one recent interview.

Less than a decade later, the Afghan 18-year-old has gained international acclaim as a barrier-breaking rapper and activist. Her music helped her snag a scholarship to attend school in the United States. And her powerful message about child marriage has gained fans across the globe.

Her song, "Brides for Sale," has won international acclaim. The music video, which features Alizadeh in a wedding dress rapping into the camera, face bruised, with a bar code across her forehead, has been viewed more than 300,000 times since it was posted to YouTube in 2014.

“Like all other girls, I am caged. I am seen as a sheep grown only to be devoured,” the translation on the video reads.
Photo: Bas Czerwinski/Getty Images.
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Alizadeh, who was born in Afghanistan and moved to Iran as a young girl, knows how lucky she is that she didn't end up a child bride. She told CNN that she watched other girls get married off at as young as 12 years old.

"If I had gotten married, my whole life would be different. I am still a teenager, and I would have so many problems," she wrote in a recent essay on the website for GirlEffect, an initiative supported by the Nike Foundation. "I would probably have many children by now, and my whole life would be lived inside my home. I wouldn’t be able to think about my future."

Now Alizadeh is a student at a school in Utah. Her personal story and skills have made international headlines. She was featured in both the BBC's 100 women of 2015 series and the Women in the World summit in London earlier this fall. Despite the attention, Alizadeh says she remains focused on pursuing her key passions.

"Right now, the three most important things in my life are school, my music, and working to end child marriage," she wrote. "I hope that all of these things will continue far into my future."

And she hopes her story of overcoming the odds will inspire other girls worldwide to continue to fight for greater rights.

"Girls need to have hope for their future, even if it is hard," she said. "If a girl loses hope, she’ll feel dead inside, and this is the worst thing."

Watch Alizadeh's debut music video below:
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