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11-year-old girl married to 40-year-old man

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11-year-old girl married to 40-year-old man

August 5th, 2012
09:58 PM ET

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 the rural Afghnanistan on Sept. 11, 2005.

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.

Whenever I saw him, I hid. I hated to see him," Tahani (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 Hajjah.

"Whenever 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 unmarried.

Nujoud Ali, two years after her divorce - when she was only eight years old - from her husband, more than 20 years her senior.

Nujoud 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.

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.

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.

Rajni, 5, was woken up around 4 am to participate in the wedding ceremony in India.

Rajni, 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.”

Nice Widdle Puppy


by on Aug. 6, 2012 at 8:57 PM
Replies (61-70):
BigRoni
by Member on Aug. 7, 2012 at 7:13 PM


Quoting LadyBugMom09:

I don't understand how a mother can allow this to happen to their DD. Do they have no voice at all???? :(

I would guess that the mothers don't have a voice and here's why: this type of situation more than likely happens in countries that have no such thing as women's rights. Middle and upper class girls in these countries are protected from this type of thing because no matter where you are from, no matter what the religion, sex with girls before their menstruation is frowned upon. So, more than likely you end up with a situation where poor families are victimized in this way.

wave" The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking and writing" - John Adams

LadyBugMom09
by Silver Member on Aug. 7, 2012 at 8:08 PM
How can fathers do that then?? How can a father give away his little baby girl to some nasty old man? I just don't understand. It's so sad.


Quoting BigRoni:


Quoting LadyBugMom09:

I don't understand how a mother can allow this to happen to their DD. Do they have no voice at all???? :(

I would guess that the mothers don't have a voice and here's why: this type of situation more than likely happens in countries that have no such thing as women's rights. Middle and upper class girls in these countries are protected from this type of thing because no matter where you are from, no matter what the religion, sex with girls before their menstruation is frowned upon. So, more than likely you end up with a situation where poor families are victimized in this way.


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batmansgirl
by Bronze Member on Aug. 7, 2012 at 8:35 PM

Yes you are correct. We the people need to open our eyes if we want our daughters and grandaughters to have the freedom and life that we do.

Quoting NWP:

Yes you are right.

That is because in America, women are given equal protections under the law and in most cases, treated as valuable human beings with thinking brains who can function independently and contribute to society.

However, there is currently a big movement to chip away at those rights happening in America right now. Some people think they need to pass legislation controlling women right here in America.

Quoting batmansgirl:

Not with the frequency it does there. At least here it is illegal and punishable by law.

Quoting NWP:

Ugh...and it happens here in America too.

Quoting Paperfishies:

Disgusting fucking cultures.





JanetMonroe1991
by Bronze Member on Aug. 7, 2012 at 8:54 PM

Not our place to police the world and inflict our "values" on other nations. 

BigRoni
by Member on Aug. 7, 2012 at 9:12 PM


Quoting LadyBugMom09:

How can fathers do that then?? How can a father give away his little baby girl to some nasty old man? I just don't understand. It's so sad.


Quoting BigRoni:


Quoting LadyBugMom09:

I don't understand how a mother can allow this to happen to their DD. Do they have no voice at all???? :(

I would guess that the mothers don't have a voice and here's why: this type of situation more than likely happens in countries that have no such thing as women's rights. Middle and upper class girls in these countries are protected from this type of thing because no matter where you are from, no matter what the religion, sex with girls before their menstruation is frowned upon. So, more than likely you end up with a situation where poor families are victimized in this way.


If it's their culture then that's probably how they married their wives. Some of these fathers probably were decent enough that they waited until their brides were atleast biologically women before they consumated their marriages and then probably not. I will not lie and say that I truly understand the whole arranged marriage thing, and I am disturbed by the fact that this is happening to pre-pubescents at that.

wave" The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking and writing" - John Adams

_Kissy_
by on Aug. 7, 2012 at 9:14 PM
3 moms liked this
Even in the Christian Bible the women were children.

Glad we got away from that.
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NWP
by guerrilla girl on Aug. 7, 2012 at 9:15 PM

WTF are you talking about? Did you not read the article or any of the comments? OMG....This is soooo insulting and wrong and not the point at all. It is ignorant of the topic as demonstrated by the article and the comments and is insulting to the previous poster.

Quoting YepYeah:


Quoting JP-StrongForTwo:


Quoting futureshock:


Quoting JP-StrongForTwo:

These are not Muslims.

True Muslims, yes, have younger brides. But it is a sin, and against the law and a punishable crime, to have sex with a child before puberty. So i cannot imagine hw they can marry without having sex :( 

those poor babies :( 


ALL the scholars i research, speak AGAINST this. 


I am sure these people would claim you are not a real Muslim.

well, im not anymore. im am apostate. 

but i get your point. im sure they would. they think they are right

So when the child hits puberty, it is ok to fuck them?  Crazy Muslims


Nice Widdle Puppy


NWP
by guerrilla girl on Aug. 7, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Because they do not consider women as equals. They consider women as property to be bartered, sold, and used for labor and sex.

This happens here in America too...any group that subjugates women has extremists who believe this way. Honestly, it is one of the reasons Rick Santorum scared the crap out of me.

It isn't just a particular culture or religion.

That is the point of the article.

Quoting LadyBugMom09:

How can fathers do that then?? How can a father give away his little baby girl to some nasty old man? I just don't understand. It's so sad.


Quoting BigRoni:


Quoting LadyBugMom09:

I don't understand how a mother can allow this to happen to their DD. Do they have no voice at all???? :(

I would guess that the mothers don't have a voice and here's why: this type of situation more than likely happens in countries that have no such thing as women's rights. Middle and upper class girls in these countries are protected from this type of thing because no matter where you are from, no matter what the religion, sex with girls before their menstruation is frowned upon. So, more than likely you end up with a situation where poor families are victimized in this way.



Nice Widdle Puppy


cjsmom1
by on Aug. 7, 2012 at 9:23 PM

I think marrying a child is wrong and disgusting. I have read many articles on this and actually just borrowed "I a Nujood" from the library. I know many families do this for money, socail standing, and not wanting to be shamed, but I find it wrong. How does a grown man marry a child? What makes them any better then a pedophile sitting in jail?

laurenb1
by on Aug. 7, 2012 at 9:23 PM
That's so sad :(
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