NPR : Photo Op: Child Brides in Afghanistan

NPR : Photo Op: Child Brides in Afghanistan: “Majabin Mohammed, 13, at left, sits with her husband of six months, Mohammed Fazal, 45. Village elders advised him to accept Majabin as payment for a gambling debt.

This is terrible. The New York Times Magazine is running a series of powerful photographs by photographer Stephanie Sinclair documenting the global problem of child brides. It would appear to be especially bad in Afghanistan where children as young as 11 years old are married off, oftentimes to repay gambling debts and the like.

While I can not begin to imagine the cultural differences between myself, an American, and those living in Afghanistan, this is horribly wrong. Girls should be allowed the time to mature into women and deserve more in their life than this. It is truly troubling to see the faces of these young girls being exploited this way.

Sinclair uses the camera in a important way to document this problem and show the rest of the world this injustice. Although the article written by Barry Bearak that accompanies her photos is powerful as well, it is these images produced by Sinclair that are most powerful of all.

I’m not sure what can be done about the global problem of child brides. But it is a tragedy of great proportion that this is allowed to go on in the world. And it makes me very, very sad.

(Thanks, Alex!)

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5 Comments

  1. A friend was a medical volunteer in Afghanistan. She told me that men would trek in from the mountains to bring their wives for help during a difficult labor, but by the time they decided to bring them and actually got them to the doctors, these women were usually beyond saving. The husbands’ response was generally a shrug and “Time to go get a new wife.”

    My friend now works in Sudan. She says it’s less stressful.

    http://www.beginningwithi.com/Woodstock/afghananne.htm

  2. A friend was a medical volunteer in Afghanistan. She told me that men would trek in from the mountains to bring their wives for help during a difficult labor, but by the time they decided to bring them and actually got them to the doctors, these women were usually beyond saving. The husbands’ response was generally a shrug and “Time to go get a new wife.”

    My friend now works in Sudan. She says it’s less stressful.

    http://www.beginningwithi.com/Woodstock/afghananne.htm

  3. Anonymous says:

    Married as young as 9, Afghan girls rarely get pre-delivery care from a medical person and most childbirths are not attended by any trained medical personnel. Midwives in rural areas are sometimes available and do their best but fatalities in childbirth or due to pregnancy related issues are common. Highest cause of death among girls 11-20.
    Of course some are impregnated too young for their slenderhipped immature bodies to bear children and are permanently disabled or die in the attempt.
    The old heads you win, tails you lose comes into play as the odds of a breech birth challenge increased with the number of pregnancies.. so lets say a girl is pregnant every year from say the ripe old age of 13…Will she make it to 40 alive? Birth control is hard to obtain. Women in the rural areas in particular are desparate for some means NOT to get pregnant and yet they have little or no access to safe birth control..The number of infants “born dead” or miscarried..may shed some light on desparate measures to limit family size with collusion of desparate women…but of course much is due to sanitary, nutritional deficits.
    Having managed to get in some donated birth control patches to one village to three women to protect each of them for just one year (a respite) at their begging..I hope others can consider this form of aid. The men do not seem willing to consider condems (one can occasionally see them used as balloons for kids to play with instead)…the women should be the ones provided b.c.

  4. wirehead says:

    Hrm.

    So, the Afgan folks are talking about how we are a cespool of immorality and filth because our 11 year olds are having sex out of wedlock.

    We are thinking they are messed up because their 11 year olds are having sex IN wedlock.

    Progress!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I, kindly, ask Americans to respect other cultures. Noone has any right to condemn the practice of marrying child brides in Afghnistan just like the US does not have any right to invade and impose a form of government in that country. Americans must remember that the US was originally founded by people who were looking for a place to be free from religious prosecution. Unfortunately and sadly, Americans are now exporting a very different concept of “liberty and justice” to other countries. It is a sick and corrupt concept and Afghanistan should not tolerate such an imposition on their culture and country. I fully respect marriage of children and adolescents to older men who will protect them and take care of them during their life. Just think about the high divorce rates in the US because americans are still so primitive as to believe they MUST marry a person of the same age. To me, that’s like thinking I should marry someone that has the same hair color as me or the same car, etc. It’s an aberration from an aberrated system that has turned into an aberrated society but STILL, I respect their aberrated ways and wish americans someday can learn to tolerate other customs and respect the people in the world. When that happens, the world will be in peace.