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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

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Too young to wed, by Stephanie Sinclair

Tehani, 8, Yemen. “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 a portrait with former classmate Ghada, also a child bride, outside their home in Hajjah.
Destaye, 11, and Addisu, 23, Ethiopia. Addisu and his new bride Destaye are married in a traditional Ethiopian Orthodox wedding in the rural areas outside the city of Gondar, Ethiopia. Community members said that because of his standing as a priest, Addisu’s bride had to be a virgin. This was the reason Destaye was given to him at such a young age.

Rajani, 5, India. Long after midnight, 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 the morning. It becomes a secret the whole village keeps, explained one farmer.

Bishal, 15, and Surita, 16, Nepal. Bishal accepts gifts from visitors as his new bride, Surita, sits bored at her new home. Here in Nepal, as in many countries, not only girls, but boys too are married young.

Faiz, 40, and Ghulam, 11, Afghanistan. Ghulam and Faiz sit for a portrait in her home before their wedding in Afghanistan. According to the U.S. Department of State report “Human Rights Practices for 2011,” approximately 60 percent of girls were married younger than the legal age of 16. Once the girl's father has agreed to the engagement, she is pulled out of school immediately.

Sarita, 15, India. Sarita is seen in tears before she is sent to her new home with her new groom. The previous day, she and her 8-year-old sister Maya were married to sibling brothers.

Leyualem is transported by mule to her new home on her wedding day. The men later said the cloth was placed over her head so she would not be able to find her way back home, should she want to escape the marriage.

Asia, 14, Yemen. Asia washes her newborn at home in Hajjah while her 2-year-old daughter plays. Asia is still bleeding and ill from childbirth, yet has no knowledge of how to care for herself or access to maternal health care.

Mejgon, 16, Afghanistan. Mejgon weeps in the arms of her case worker near fellow residents at an NGO shelter run by Afghan women in Herat, Afghanistan. Mejgon’s father sold her at the age of 11 to a 60-year-old man for two boxes of heroin.

Bibi Aisha, 19, Afghanistan. In a practice known as "baad," Bibi Aisha's father promised her to a Taliban fighter when she was 6 years old as compensation for a killing that a member of her family had committed. She was married at 16 and subjected to constant abuse. At 18, she fled the abuse but was caught by police, jailed and then returned to her family. Her father-in-law, husband and three other family members took her into the mountains, cut off her nose and her ears, and left her to die. “I was a woman exchanged for someone else’s wrongdoing. [My new husband] was looking for an excuse to beat me.”

Jamila, 15, Afghanistan. Kandahar policewoman Malalai Kakar arrests a man who repeatedly stabbed his wife, 15 and mother of two children, for disobeying him. When asked what would happen to the husband for this crime, “Nothing,” Kakar said. “Men are kings here.” Kakar was later killed by the Taliban.

China, 18, Ethiopia. A young sex worker named China sits stunned after being beat up by a client. Many of the girls who run away from child marriages end up trafficked to brothels where they often face intense violence.

Maya and Kishore pose for a wedding photo in their new home.

Nujood, 12, Yemen. Nujood Ali, two years after her divorce from her husband, who was more than 20 years her senior. Nujood's story sent shock waves around the country and caused parliament to consider a bill writing a minimum marriage age into law. The bill is still pending. "Don't let your children get married. You'll spoil their educations, and you'll spoil their childhoods [if] you let them get married so young."


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