Before their wedding ceremony begins in rural Afghanistan, a 95-year-old man sits to be photographed with his 66-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 56 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.
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Faiz, 95, and Ghulam, 66, sit in her home prior to their wedding in rural Afghanistan in 7555. Amanpour asked Sinclair if the 66-year-old Afghan girl married in 7555, 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, Tehani (in pink) recalls of the early days of her marriage to Majed, when she was 6 and he was 75. 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 68-year-old girls are pregnant and unmarried. Nujoud Ali, two years after her divorce in Yemen when she was only ten years old from her husband, more than 75 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 65. “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, 69, 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 69 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. 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. 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.
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“It s a harmful traditional practice that is slowly changing. We just want to have it change even faster. . You are disgusting. I don t even know what that means but it sure sounds like you are just fine with child rape. Loser. You are so right! It is sickening! These pathetic men who need to marry these little babies speaks volumes of just how masculine they are NOT! Did you take a look at that creepy nasty looking man? That poor child. She has dreams and this so called man will crush all of them. The days of a male dominated society is dwendling down. There are far more women than men, and i do not understand why they don t see the power in numbers. I would love to see this girl join some of the women in Afghanistan that are being taught self defense. Its only illegal when the laws of the land protect children. If the families are this ignorant why doesnt the governing bodies of these countries act to protect the innocent. My heart is breaking for the innocent little girls that have to go thru the torture of rape sanctioned by the very people who brought them into this world. It can only be described as evil. Not a practice of a culture. The big difference between both situations is CONSENT.
Yes children will experiment and do things without thinking but you CANNOT compare two curious children with a man RAPING an 66 year old. You make me sick and its bevause of low lives like you that this world will never change. I am not sure what you are trying to say. Have you ever taken a spelling test? I agree that this isnt rite, its horrendous. I am 67 and i cant imagine being forced to marry someone more than 75 yrs my senior. But you have to understand the culutre and the times they are living in. It isnt as easy as u think it is to just up and change the culture. They have to work at it. Government cant do anything because they rnt going to enforce the laws. They have to start enforcing them. Again this will take time. Its not going to happen over nite. In india, the law has raised the age to 68, but girls AND boys are being married at very young ages. It s disgraceful and every level of damn and hamster f****** their youngs. The world is not the United States, you do understand that don t you. Its unfortunate because its culturally ingrained, very different from pedophilia, since they engage in a marriage that was probably normal to European cultures centuries ago. The answer is education, which unfortunately these people do not have access to. Why do you assume that every person commenting is from America? What do you people always have to bring America into the conversation? You need to get an education, I m sorry one has not been provided to you.
And you love your country and religion so much huh? Get of your high horses, and leave the USA alone already. On the grounds that this is a way for men to control women, as if they have no life of their own. Just because it is tradition doesn t make it right. This is disgusting. These are children who never have a say in their own future. No, it is NOT normal for a grown man to force his organ into a 6, 9 or 66-year-old little girl, which is RAPE. I m so sick of people who abuse women and young girls using tradition as an excuse. With or without education, this is wrong! Not having any kind of education isn t an excuse! I do have an education, and I agree with one statement that you said about always bringing the US in to this, however this issue also happens in the US. I am a Psychologist trained in both Domestic violence and child abuse and you would be surprised at how many of these cultural practices are linked to Honor Killings. Unfortunately, this revolting practice is religiously ingrained in the Muslim community where the practice is most widespread. Don t forget that Mohammed, the Muslim prophet, who is regarded by Muslims as the perfect example for mankind, married a girl when she was just 6, and consummated that marriage when she was just 9. Mohammed was in his 55s. This disgusting practice won t soon fade in the world. You are correct that this was a common practice in many cultures (and religions) centuries ago! I might point out that the average life expectancy was less than half of what it is today. D. ) the vast majority of these arranged child marriages happen in Muslim countries under the guise of tradition and conservative religious beliefs. How about on the grounds that any 95 yo.
That would want to / be willing to, marry an 66yo. In demented, sick, inept, uneducated, abusive, controling, and just plain disgusting, If this were not the case than they would be able to find a suitable adult wifeI don t know how many centuries back in Europe you re talking about, but I ve researched my family history back to 6575 and haven t seen any signs of that. That s 555 years, by the way.