Sonita Alizadeh Afghanistani Rapper and Activist Biography

9 months ago / by Swarnendu Biswas
Sonita alizadeh
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Rapper and Activist

Sonita Alizadeh is a rapper and activist from Afghanistan who has voiced against forced marriages and child marriages through her powerful singing and lyrics. She attracted headlines with the airing of the music video of her rap song ‘Brides for Sale,’ which she also wrote. The video went viral on YouTube and garnered 1.4 million views.

Escape from Taliban

She was born in Herat in Afghanistan in 1996, during the oppressive Taliban regime. The age of Sonita Alizadeh is 26 years. Her family intended to sell her as a bride to a man when she was 10. This may startle many western readers in the developed world, but such a ghastly practice is not that uncommon in Afghanistan.

Thankfully, such intentions didn’t materialize into reality for her. While discussing about Sonita Alizadeh we can know that when Sonita was 14, she and her family fled to Iran by walking hundreds of miles in order to escape Taliban’s regime.

There at an NGO for Afghan refugees she moved from illiteracy to literacy though she couldn’t attend a formal school without proper legal papers. While learning to read and write she also used to clean offices and bathrooms to financially help her family.However, even in such trying circumstances her interest for art and music managed to sprout.

Musical Journey

She got influenced by Iranian rapper Yas and American rapper Eminem and inspired by them she found her musical voice as she began writing her own songs. Her first rap was on child labor.

A quintessential rebel, she defied the traditions and law in Iran that prohibited women from singing, and recorded songs that talked about her refugee status, about the raging war in Afghanistan, and about being a young woman. In 2014, Sonita Alizadeh entered a US-based competition for a music video to encourage Afghan people to vote in their elections. She won the competition and got a 1000 USD prize for her winning the competition.

Brides for Sale

But despite such reflections of empowerment shown by her, the family of Sonita Alizadeh could not escape from their deep-seated ultra regressive mindset and they again tried to sell her to marriage when she was only 18. Soon after her winning the competition, her mother called her to return to Afghanistan (her family had returned to Afghanistan before)and informed her that she had found a man to whom Sonita would be sold in marriage. 

She was pitched to be sold to marriage for 9000 USD; the money was required so that her brother could ‘buy’ his bride.

Then came the most important turning point of her life which needs to be highlighted in any biography of Sonita Alizadeh. Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami, the Sundance Award-winning Iranian documentary filmmaker, who directed a documentary film on Sonita Alizadeh in 2015 named Sonita, came to her rescue. She gave 2,000 USD to Sonita’s mother in exchange of six months of time for Sonita.

The reprieve gave Sonita the creative freedom to pen the celebrated song ‘Brides for Sale’ and sing it. Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami filmed the music video which became an international sensation after it was uploaded on YouTube. In this video, she sings about daughters being sold by their families into marriage.

With US and the World

Eventually her family agreed to not force Sonita to get married. The music video not only attracted huge popularity among women in Afghanistan, but also garnered attention of the nonprofit Strongheart Group, which arranged to bring SonitaAlizadeh to the US.

She now lives in the US where she has earned her high school diploma from an international college preparatory boarding school. The lyricist and rapper Sonita Alizadeh now lives in New York and continues to write songs while pursuing her academics. She passionately advocates for ending child marriage and has shared the stage with heads of state and Nobel laureates.

Sonita was named as one of the Global Thinkers of 2015 of the Foreign Policy Magazine, was one of BBC’s 100 Women of 2015, and has been extensively featured in global media. According to, the net worth of Sonita Alizadeh in 2021 was between 1-5 million USD.


For what is Sonita Alizadeh known for?

She is known for her song ‘Brides for Sale’ and for her other songs and her activism against forced marriages and child marriages. She is also known for the documentary made on her.

Is Sonita Alizadeh married?

There is no news in public domain about her marriage. She is most probably single.

When did Sonita Alizadeh start her career?

One can say her career in music began in 2014 when she won the above-mentioned competition.