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article imageUNICEF Photo of the Year 2007 - Afghani Child Bride

By Chris V. Thangham     Dec 20, 2007 in World
The American photographer Stephanie Sinclair is the winner of the international photo competition “UNICEF Photo of the Year”. Her photo shows vividly the exploitation of children.
The girl in the photo looks very innocent in this picture, yet highlights the growing problems of exploitation of children in this world and is aptly named the “UNICEF Photo of the Year” 2007.
This photo taken by Stephanie Sinclair shows a wedding couple in Afghanistan, the bride, Ghulam is only 11 years old, and the groom, Mohammed is 40 years old.
Millions of girls are married very young worldwide. According to UNICEF, there are about 60 million young women worldwide who were married before they come of age, half of them in South Asia.
UNICEF Patroness Eva Luise Köhler at the award ceremony in Berlin said, most of these child brides are forever denied a self-determined life.
Ghulam’s parents said they gave the daughter away because they needed the money. The Groom promised that he will send the girl to school, but many doubt his claim. The women in Ghulam’s village Damarda in Afghanistan’s Ghor province say the men don’t want educated women. So, most likely Ghulam will not be schooled and end up getting children very soon.
Stephanie Sinclair not only saw Ghulam like this but also saw many young girls getting married to much older men. So she wanted to raise awareness by taking this picture. The official minimum age for girls getting married in Afghanistan is sixteen but many break the law without getting punished like Mohammad in this example.
According to UNICEF, in the Indian state of Rajasthan, 15 per cent of all wives are less than 10 years old when they get married. In some Asian and African regions, poor families consider girls as burdens and treat them as second class citizens, and most of them are given away in the form of marriages like the above. Most of these girls are exploited and abused.
In an Egyptian survey, one third of child brides said they were beaten by their husbands. UNICEF said the young brides are under pressure to prove their fertility as soon as possible. But the risk for girls between the ages of 10 and 14 not to survive pregnancy is five times higher than for adult women. Every year, about 150,000 pregnant teenagers die due to complications – in particular due to a lack of medical care, let alone sex education.
Stephanie Sinclair will be publishing a book on the topic of child marriage based on her experience so far.
Also see the runner up photos in the link, they are equally disturbing.
Read the book “Kite Runner” or see the movie, it talks about some of the issues discussed here, it is not just fiction in Afghanistan.
Will foreign countries' presence in Afghanistan and the billions being spent there stop this abuse? I hope so but I doubt it.
More about Unicef, Photo year, 2007