In early 2014, Argus hosted an election themed song contest, that attracted impressive musical entries from many of Afghan youth inside the country, as well as several from the Afghan diaspora, places like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Canada.
The most impressive entry and consequent winner of the female category was Sonita Alizadeh, an 18 year old Afghan economic-refugee, who’s family was forced to move to Iran to survive. Because she is Afghan person-non-grata, she is not entitled to an Iranian education. Sonita works at a Tehran based NGO, that helps Afghans in the same situation as her.
For several years her mother has pressured her to get married, so the mother can use the dowry from her daughters wedding to pay for her sons wedding. In a sense, selling her daughter off to a paying Afghan family, so her son can choose his wife and hopefully produce more male heirs.
Sonita challenges her mother, saying “Please don’t sell me, I want to be a musicians!”. Her mother replies “An Afghan girl being a musicians will only bring shame to our family.”
Sonita has been writing songs about her plight and the struggles of her fellow Afghan sister. She has a strong collection of album material, ready for recording. She also has the dream to one day perform in front of her people, back home in Afghanistan.
This is Project Sonita.
Special thanks to Ahmad Ahmadi & Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami.