Amsterdam, the Netherlands – On 23 November 2015, AWEPA attended a special screening of the film SONITA at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam, followed by a panel discussion on why child marriage is holding back 15 million girls every year across the globe and what needs to be done to end this practice once and for all.
The film SONITA is the story of Sonita Alizadeh, an illegal Afghan refugee living in poverty in the suburbs of Tehran. While trying hard to improve her situation and secretly practicing rap, she learns that her family intends to sell her as a child bride to a man she has never met.
After the screening of the documentary film about Sonita’s life and journey, Ms. Mabel van Oranje, Board Chair of Girls Not Brides led a conversation with Sonita herself, Ms. Jet Bastiani, Senior Health and Gender Advisor at Plan Netherlands and Ms. Lakshmi Sundaram, Executive Dirtector of Girls Not Brides.
During the panel discussion Sonita spoke about her experience in and after the movie and her future dreams, and responded to questions from the audience regarding the movie. The two other panelists shared their experience working on child marriage.
— AWEPA (@AWEPA) November 23, 2015
Ms. Mabel van Oranje concluded by indicating that she was hopeful that there will be a world without child marriage in the end, thanks to role models like Sonita and initiatives like Girls not Brides which, together with its 500 member organisations in 75 countries, helps raise awareness about child marriage. Ms. Mabel also emphasised the importance of including youth in the programme development phase towards ending forced child marriage.
The interesting afternoon was concluded by live rapping by Sonita of the song “Daughters for Sale” while a clip of the song was shown in the background.
With a poet’s soul and an activist’s passion, Sonita uses her rap lyrics and powerful voice to fight child marriage. Speaking out for the right of girls and women to choose their own destiny, Sonita’s advocacy began with herself when, as a teenager, she wrote the song “Daughters for Sale” and created a music video, as a cry against her own impending wedding. The song was written from the viewpoint of her young friends also about to be sold, and is becoming a rallying cry for many girls across the globe.