The first time 19-year-old Sonita Alizadeh’s parents tried to sell her into marriage, she was 10 years old: “I wasn’t sad because I didn’t know what they were talking about”. In fact, she thought it was like playing a dress-up game, and at first she was happy about it. “It was the first time [my parents] focused on me and they bought me new clothes.”
That marriage didn’t end up going through, but as she grew older, Sonita learned to fear the marriage that was still awaiting her. And she wasn’t alone in that fear: According to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, at least 15 percent of Afghan girls are married before the age of 15. Roughly 60 to 80 percent of child marriages in Afghanistan are forced.