Thursday, July 28, 2011

Child Brides

The practice of child marriage is far more common throughout the world than many might suspect. According to UNICEF, as many as 50 million girls in developing countries were married before they turned 18 and 100 million more are expected to marry in the next decade. Child brides can be as young as 5 or 6 when they enter marriages, often with much older men.

"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.
This group of young brides in a village in western Yemen were quiet and shy—until talk turned to education. Most of the girls, who were married between the ages of 14 and 16, had never attended school, but all say they still hope for an education.
Asia, a 14-year-old mother, washes her new baby girl at home in Hajjah while her 2-year-old daughter plays. Asia is still bleeding and ill from childbirth yet has no education or access to information on how to care for herself.
Long after midnight, five-year-old Rajani is roused from sleep and carried by her uncle to her wedding. Child marriage is illegal in India, so ceremonies are often held in the wee hours of morning. It becomes a secret the whole village keeps, explained one farmer.
Although early marriage is the norm in her small Nepali village, 16-year-old Surita wails in protest as she leaves her family's home, shielded by a traditional wedding umbrella and carried in a cart to her new husband's village.
Nujood Ali was ten when she fled her abusive, much older husband and took a taxi to the courthouse in Sanaa, Yemen. The girl's courageous act—and the landmark legal battle that ensued—turned her into an international heroine for women's rights. Now divorced, she is back home with her family and attending school again.


1 comment: