Monday, October 15, 2012

Child Brides

The United Nations designated October 11 as International Day of the Girl Child this year. To mark the occasion and draw attention to the problem of child brides, photojournalist Stephanie Sinclair teamed up with National Geographic to create  a series of heart-breaking photos depicting girls as young as five years old being married off to middle-aged men in countries like India, Yemen and Ethiopia. More than 10 million young girls are being forced to wed men old enough to be their fathers or grandfather every year, in more than 50 developing countries.

Although child marriage is against the law in many countries, and international treaties prohibits the practice, it is estimated that about 51 million girls below age 18 are currently married. In Afghanistan alone, it is believed that approximately 57% of girls wed before the legal age of 16.  Various factors drive parents of child brides to marry off their daughters, from the community’s pressure to confirm to age-old cultural customs to economic considerations. In poor, developing nations, it is not uncommon for families to settle debts by offering their daughters as payment. In many cases, the girls are lorded over by their husbands and in-laws, leaving them vulnerable to domestic violence as well as physical, sexual and verbal abuse. Underage wives who are lucky enough to escape from their husbands end up living in poverty, or worse. Some girls turn to prostitution to earn a meager income and enter brothels, where they are subjected to horrific abuse. 

Sunam is only 3 years old. She is dressed up in her bridal outfit as she prepares to marry her 7-year-old cousin. Photo credit: Farzana Wahidy/AP - LINK

Malado Ba, an 11-year-old girl, is engaged. In two years, she will wed her cousin, who is five years her senior. She was promised to him at birth. Malado has no say in the matter. This is the custom among her people, the Peul, here in Mauritania, West Africa. - LINK

This is Kala, who is 13-years-old and in 7th grade. She was married when she was just three months old - LINK

Munni has never enrolled in school. And at the age of sixteen she has become a widow and will be considered as such for the rest of her life. - LINK

Sumeena Shreshta Balami, right, 15, leaves her home to meet her groom, Prakash Balami, 16, in Kagati Village in Nepal

Ghulam, 11, says a prayer with male family members to cement her engagement to Faiz, 40

Portrait of Said, 55, and Roshan, 8, on the day of their engagement, Afghanistan

Police woman Malalai Kakar (back right) arrests Janan, 35, after he tried to kill his 15-year-old wife Jamila for angering him by fleeing her home to stay with her mother following years of abuse

A young prostitute named China sits stunned after being beat up by a man visiting Kabele Five in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Priest Addisu Abebe, 23, and his new bride Destaye Amare, 11, are married in a traditional Ethiopian Orthodox wedding in the rural areas outside the city of Gondar, Ethiopia

Sarita, 15, is seen covered in tears and sweat before she is sent to her new home in Rajasthan, India

Maya, 8, and Kishore, 13, pose for a wedding photo inside their new home the day after the Hindu holy day of Akshaya Tritiya, or Akha Teej, in Rajasthan, India

Asia, a 14-year-old mother, washes her new baby girl at home in Hajjah while her two-year-old daughter plays

Young girls sit inside a home outside of Al Hudaydah, Yemen, in 2010

Faiz, 40 (left), and Ghulam (right), 11, sit in her home prior to their wedding in the rural Damarda Village, Afghanistan on September 11, 2005

Nujood Ali was ten, when she fled her abusive, much older husband and took a taxi to the courthouse in Sanaa, Yemen,

Tahani (front), 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada (rear), 8, and her husband outside their home in Hajjah, Yemen

Debritu, 14, escaped from her husband while seven month pregnant

Info and photos(with the exception of the first three) from here

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