By Samuel Burke
Before their wedding ceremony begins in rural Afghanistan, a
40-year-old man sits to be photographed with his 11-year-old bride. The
girl tells the photographer that she is sad to be engaged because she
had hoped to become a teacher. Her favorite class was Dari, the local
language, before she had to leave her studies to get married.
She is one of the 51 million child brides around the world today. And
it's not just Muslims; it happens across many cultures and regions.
Photographer Stephanie Sinclair has traveled the world taking
pictures, like the one of the Afghan couple, to document the phenomenon.
Christiane Amanpour spoke with Sinclair about a book which features her
photographs called, "Questions without Answers: The World in Pictures
by the Photographers of VII."
Faiz, 40, and Ghulam, 11, sit in her home prior to their wedding in rural Afghanistan in 2005.
Amanpour asked Sinclair if the 11-year-old Afghan girl married in
2005, and others like her, consummate their marriages at such an early
age. Sinclair says while many Afghans told her the men would wait until
puberty, women pulled her aside to tell her that indeed the men do have
sex with the prepubescent brides.
Sinclair has been working on the project for nearly a decade. She
goes into the areas with help from people in these communities who want
the practice to stop, because they see the harmful repercussions.
I saw him, I hid. I hated to see him," Tehani (in pink) recalls of the
early days of her marriage to Majed, when she was 6 and he was 25. The
young wife posed for this portrait with former classmate Ghada, also a
child bride, outside their mountain home in Yemen.
In Yemen, a similar picture. Tehani and Ghada are sisters-in-law
photographed with their husbands, who are both members of the military.
Like most of the girls, Tehani didn’t even know she was getting married,
until the wedding night. She was six years old.
Tehani describes how she entered the marriage, “They were decorating
my hands, but I didn’t know they were going to marry me off. Then my
mother came in and said, ‘Come on my daughter.’ They were dressing me up
and I was asking, ‘Where are you taking me?’”
Sinclair says, “This harmful, traditional practice of child marriage
is just so embedded in some of these cultures that the families don't
protect them as they should.”
The subjects do know they’re being photographed and Sinclair tells
them the topic she is working on. She does tell them that there is teen
pregnancy in places like the U.S., but for the societies she’s
photographing it’s even worse that 13-year-old girls are pregnant and
Ali, two years after her divorce in Yemen – when she was only ten years
old – from her husband, more than 20 years her senior.
Another one of the photographs Sinclair took
is of a Yemeni girl named Nujood Ali. In a rare turn of events, Ali
managed to get a divorce at age 10.
“A couple months after she was married, she went to the court and
found a lawyer – a woman named Shada Nasser and asked her to help her
get a divorce, and she was granted [it],” Sinclair says. “It's
definitely rare and Nujood became kind of an international symbol of
child marriage, because she was able to do this. And I think she's
inspired a lot of other girls and other organizations to support these
girls, to have a stronger voice.”
Leyualem, 14, is wisked away on a mule by her new groom and groomsmen in Ethiopia.
Sinclair has documented the practice outside of the Muslim world. In a
Christian community in Ethiopia, she captured the image of a 14
year-old girl named Leyualem in a scene that looks like an abduction.
Leyualem was whisked away on a mule with a sheet covering up her face.
Sinclair asked the groomsmen why they covered her up; they said it was
so she would not be able to find her way back home, if she wanted to
escape the marriage.
Kaushal ,10, and Rajni, 5, participate in the marriage ceremony in Northern India.
Sinclair travelled to India and Nepal, and photographed child marriages among some Hindus.
A five-year-old Hindu girl named Rajni was married under cover of
night: “Literally at four o'clock in the morning. And her two older
sisters were married to two other boys,” Sinclair says. “Often you see
these group marriages because the girl and the families can't afford to
have three weddings.” In the five-year-old girl’s case, Rajni will
continue to live with her own family for several years.
5, was woken up around 4 am to participate in the wedding ceremony.
Here, she is carried by her uncle to her wedding in India.
Girls aren’t always the only ones forced into marriage. Sinclair
wanted to photograph child marries in India and Nepal, because sometimes
the boys entering a marriage are also young. “And often they're victims
just as much of this harmful traditional practice,” she says.
Sinclair told Amanpour that she hopes her photographs would not only
highlight the problems to westerners, but also show people in the areas
where this takes place that if the girls continue to be taken out of
the population to forcibly work at home, that their communities suffer
as a whole.
“It's a harmful traditional practice that is slowly changing. We just want to have it change even faster. LINK :http://amanpour.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/05/11-year-old-girl-married-to-40-year-old-man/
|Liveleak on Facebook|