Scandals Against Sustainability: Child Marriage Around the World

August 9, 2012 • Reproductive Health, Daily Email Recap

As a member of Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage, Population Media Center was quite pleased to see the recent coverage of this pressing issue by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. We recommend you take the time to watch the approximately 8 minute interview she did with photo journalist Stephanie Sinclair who has traveled around the world documenting the phenomenon. Beyond the primary concerns of individual liberty and human rights of the youth, it quickly becomes obvious why battling this harmful traditional practice is a key intervention in the struggle for a more sustainable human relationship with the planet. Included below is a text report by CNN’s Samuel Burke.









11 Year Old Girl Married to 40 Year Old Man


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.”

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.

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.”

To read the full article, please click here:

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