Sonita Alizadeh was 10 years old the first time her parents considered selling her into marriage. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. But just six years later, her older brother needed $7,000 to help pay for a dowry that would cover his own wedding expenses. In order to cover the cost, her parents wanted to sell Sonita for $9,000 to an older man she’d never met.
When her mother told her, Sonita was devastated. “I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t speak,” she told the New York Times. “My heart broke. It was too hard to imagine marrying someone I didn’t know. What would it feel like to be touched?”