http://www.visiontimes.com/?p=94571

‘Sonita,’ a Documentary About a Young Girl Who Escapes Forced Marriage

The documentary film Sonita is about a young Afghan girl living in Tehran who dreams of being a rapper, but whose mother wants to sell her into marriage. Iranian Director Rokhsareh Ghaem spent three years making the film about the performer, and ended up helping her escape.

Sonita Alizadeh in her video clip for song 'Brides For Sale.' (Image: New Wave Films via YouTube/Screenshot)

Sonita Alizadeh in her video clip for the song ‘Brides For Sale.’ (Image: New Wave Films via YouTube/Screenshot)

Sonita Alizadeh was only 10 years old when her family first tried to sell her into marriage. This is a tradition in Afghanistan. When she was 16, they again tried to sell her for US$9,000.

Sonita, in Iran, women are banned from singing in solo. (Image: New Wave Films via YouTube/Screenshot)

In Iran, women are banned from singing solo. (Image: New Wave Films via YouTube/Screenshot)

Rokhsareh Ghaem learned about Sonita’s story through one of her friends, who was an NGO worker. Her friend originally thought that the film would just be about helping Sonita obtain some musical training, and believed that it wouldn’t change her situation.

“Rap music let’s you tell your story to other people. Rap music is a platform to share the words that are in my heart.” (Image: New Wave Films via YouTube/Screenshot)

‘Rap music lets you tell your story to other people. Rap music is a platform to share the words that are in my heart.’ (Image: New Wave Films via YouTube/Screenshot)

As the story unfolds, the director transitioned from making an observational documentary to being involved in the outcome. Ghaem ended up paying Sonita’s mother US$2,000 to delay her sale into a forced marriage.

Had her life gone as her mother planned, she would now be married, sold to the highest bidder. (Image: New Wave Films via YouTube/Screenshot)

Had her life gone as her mother planned, she would have been married off to the highest bidder. (Image: New Wave Films via YouTube/Screenshot)

During the filming, Sonita was able to win a scholarship to a U.S. high school, and eventually escaped to pursue her dreams. If she would have stayed in Afganistan, she would have been married off to the highest bidder. She doesn’t blame her mother, who was married off at 13, and like many other Afghan women, this was all she knew.

Sonita raps about the issues facing Afghan women and youth. (Image: New Wave Films via YouTube/Screenshot)

Sonita raps about the issues facing Afghan women and youth. (Image: New Wave Films via YouTube/Screenshot)

Sonita is now a rapper and activist who dedicates her life to fighting for girls who are too young to wed. Rokhsareh Ghaem spoke to The Guardian about her involvement in Sonita’s story and the role of a documentary filmmaker:

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