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    International Day of the Girl Child: The terrifying world of child brides

    The terrifying world of child brides: Devastating images show girls young enough to be in pre-school who are married off to older men

    By Snejana Farberov
    PUBLISHED: 03:59 GMT, 12 October 2012 | UPDATED: 13:45 GMT, 12 October 2012

    At age 11, Ghulam was married off to 40-year-old Jaiz in a rural Afghan village, making her only one of more than 10 million young girls who are being forced to wed men old enough to be their fathers or grandfather every year.

    In an effort to start a global conversation about the devastating effects of early marriages, which are currently practiced in more than 50 developing countries, the United Nations designated October 11 as International Day of the Girl Child this year.

    To mark the occasion and draw attention to the problem of child brides, photojournalist Stephanie Sinclair teamed up with National Geographic to create a series of heart-breaking photos depicting girls as young as five years old being married off to middle-aged men in countries like India, Yemen and Ethiopia.


    Disturbing: Faiz, 40 (left), and Ghulam (right), 11, sit in her home prior to their wedding in the rural Damarda Village, Afghanistan on September 11, 2005


    Minors: Tahani (front), 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada (rear), 8, and her husband outside their home in Hajjah, Yemen


    Voiceless: Sumeena Shreshta Balami, right, 15, leaves her home to meet her groom, Prakash Balami, 16, in Kagati Village in Nepal, while Sarita, left, 15, is seen covered in tears and sweat before she is sent to her new home in Rajasthan, India


    Vulnerable: Young girls sit inside a home outside of Al Hudaydah, Yemen, in 2010

    Although child marriage is against the law in many countries, and international treaties forbid the practice, it is estimates that about 51 million girls below age 18 are currently married, often under the cover of darkness and in secret. In Afghanistan alone, it is believed that approximately 57 per cent of girls wed before the legal age of 16.

    Various factors drive parents of child brides to marry off their daughters, from the community’s pressure to confirm to age-old cultural customs to economic considerations. In poor, developing nations, it is not uncommon for families to settle debts by offering their daughters as payment.

    Beside India, where girls are usually wed to boys who are only a couple of years their senior, the husbands may be decades older than their prepubescent betrothed. It is not uncommon for men to kidnap girls and rape them first before trying the knot.


    Opulent: Priest Addisu Abebe, 23, and his new bride Destaye Amare, 11, are married in a traditional Ethiopian Orthodox wedding in the rural areas outside the city of Gondar, Ethiopia


    Shocking: Portrait of Said, 55, and Roshan, 8, on the day of their engagement, Afghanistan


    Child mothers: Asia, a 14-year-old mother, washes her new baby girl at home in Hajjah while her two-year-old daughter plays

    Since 2003, Sinclair has been traveling to remote corners of the world in countries like Nepal and Yemen to document weddings of child brides and their transformation into young mothers in the hope of giving them a voice and raising awareness of the problem.

    Experts agree that early marriage denies the girls education and robs them of their childhood because most young wives, burdened by grownup responsibilities, do not get a chance to interact with their peers or carry on friendships outside the household.

    Ghulam, the 11-year-old bride from Afghanistan who was married off in 2005, was forced to drop out of school, giving up on her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Parents often remove their daughters from school even before they are engaged to limit their interactions with boys.

    In many cases, the girls are lorded over by their husbands and in-laws, leaving them vulnerable to domestic violence as well as physical, sexual and verbal abuse.

    Underage wives who are lucky enough to escape from their husbands end up living in poverty, or worse. Some girls turn to prostitution to earn a meager income and enter brothels, where they are subjected to horrific abuse.


    Fearless: Nujood Ali, right, was ten when she fled her abusive, much older husband and took a taxi to the courthouse in Sanaa, Yemen, while, Debritu, right, 14, escaped from her husband while seven month pregnant


    Gruesome: Police woman Malalai Kakar (back right) arrests Janan, 35, after he tried to kill his 15-year-old wife Jamila for angering him by fleeing her home to stay with her mother following years of abuse


    Rock bottom: A young prostitute named China sits stunned after being beat up by a man visiting Kabele Five in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

    Most girls who enter early marriages are expected to get pregnant right away, which often leads to tragedy for both the mothers, who are still children themselves, and their babies.

    Adolescent wives are more likely to have obstructed labor because their bodies have not fully developed yet. Statistics show that pregnancy death for child brides is double that of women in the 20s, according to the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

    One doctor based in the Yemeni capital Sanaa listed some of the medical consequences of forcing girls into sex and childbirth before they are physically mature - ripped vaginal walls and internal ruptures called fistulas which can lead to life-long incontinence.

    Girls are often too young to understand the concept of reproduction. The doctor said: 'The nurses start by asking, "Do you know what's happening?" "Do you understand that this is a baby that has been growing inside of you?"'

    Unless international organizations take steps to reverse the troubling trend, it is estimated that over the next decade, 100 million more girls—or about 25,000 girls a day—will marry before they turn 18.

    To learn more about the campaign to end the practice of early marriages, go to Too Young To Wed.


    Tradition: Ghulam, 11, says a prayer with male family members to cement her engagement to Faiz, 40


    New family: Maya, 8, and Kishore, 13, pose for a wedding photo inside their new home the day after the Hindu holy day of Akshaya Tritiya, or Akha Teej, in Rajasthan, India

    "Slavery is the daughter of darkness; an ignorant people is the blind instrument of its own destruction; ambition and intrigue take advantage of the credulity and inexperience of men who have no political, economic or civil knowledge. They mistake pure illusion for reality, license for freedom, treason for patriotism, vengeance for justice."-Simón Bolívar

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    Words fail me.

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    Most girls who enter early marriages are expected to get pregnant right away, which often leads to tragedy for both the mothers, who are still children themselves, and their babies.

    Adolescent wives are more likely to have obstructed labor because their bodies have not fully developed yet. Statistics show that pregnancy death for child brides is double that of women in the 20s, according to the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

    One doctor based in the Yemeni capital Sanaa listed some of the medical consequences of forcing girls into sex and childbirth before they are physically mature - ripped vaginal walls and internal ruptures called fistulas which can lead to life-long incontinence.
    Abhorrent. Shame it doesn't stop them breeding, full-stop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by StrontiumDog
    Asia, a 14-year-old mother, washes her new baby girl at home in Hajjah while her two-year-old daughter plays
    These people are savages.

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    Pre-schoolers start late over in them parts.

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    What religion would allow its followers to practice such babaric behaviour?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Koojo View Post
    What religion would allow its followers to practice such babaric behaviour?
    Most. there were Ethiopian (orthodox) christians, muslims, various Indians......

    a depressing article that makes one wonder about "humanity"...

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    ENT
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    It's not so much a religious practice, more a cultural one, spreading across (mainly) N Africa through eastern Mediterrania and on across to India.

    In India it's a method of consolidating family wealth and honour, kids of (usually) similar ages are promised, betrothed as young as five or six, but don't actually get married until their teens or even twenties.

    It's more prevalent in well off families there than among the poor, and started off as a royal prerogative and to protect clan and family honour during the Indian middle ages, after the Moghul invasion and introduction of Islam into India as a ruling power.

    The practice spread with Islam.

    Medieval Europe saw child marriage practiced too.

    The biggest excuse for it in India was to preserve family honour, so that a girl, often regarded as the source of suffering through pleasure, sex, birth and death would not become a problem for the family, who had to pay dowri to the groom's family.

    A non-virgin was simply not eligible for marriage in those circumstances, so virgin child brides became the most desirable females for any man.
    Last edited by ENT; 17-10-2012 at 02:46 PM.

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    Mid
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    Quote Originally Posted by benbaaa View Post
    Words fail me.
    as they did me

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    Young girls are a drain on family resources. Once the "crop" has reached a sellable price/quality they are sold. If they "ripen" too much the price diminishes like all commodities. Ask the House of Windsor family in the UK

    Ask any farmer. Or have you all fallen for the hard working Protestant family business model.
    A tray full of GOLD is not worth a moment in time.

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    So are our troops fighting in Afghanyland to help keep this way of life for the sick fux !

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurgen
    this way of life for the sick fux
    So you are looking down from the moral high ground and are passing judgement on the heathens below. Very righteous of you.

    As for "our troops fighting in xxxxxxx, yyyyyyy or zzzzzzzz" have they actually asked you for your troops or would they rather "our troops" left their country?

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    Mid
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    OhOh do you have daughters or sisters ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by OhOh View Post
    Young girls are a drain on family resources. Once the "crop" has reached a sellable price/quality they are sold. If they "ripen" too much the price diminishes like all commodities. Ask the House of Windsor family in the UK

    Ask any farmer. Or have you all fallen for the hard working Protestant family business model.
    I don't know what propaganda school you got that stuff from, as that's not the case.

    Men pay a bride price sometimes in Islamic societies while a dowri is paid by the bride's family to her new husband's family.
    This is why girl babies were often killed (and still are) in India, as she was regarded as a potential financial burden in the future.
    Bride price, paid by the male to the bride's family is similar to sinsot in Thailand.

    Now which farmers are you referring to, what's the house of Windsor got to do with child brides, and what Protestant family business model are you raving on about.

    Make some sense, man.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mid
    OhOh do you have daughters or sisters ?
    Yes both, sadly my mother has died. My sister, because of her own problems will never marry, My daughter is young and I hope will someday find someone she loves enough to want to marry.

    ^ in some societies payment for a bride is paid upfront. Other societies the cost of the bride is paid during the marriage or if it fails the cost is calculated according to the current equations determined by marriage laws. Either system suggests a price is payable, by the man, for a bride.

    In some countries the wife's parents pay for the wedding suggesting that a price or dowry is due for a man to take on the wife.

    That I hope clarifies my opinion of "buying" a wife.

    If it is the age at which these girls are married off that is a worry then there are reasons why different countries have set different ages. Your own countries reasons are suitable for their situation and cannot be transported to other countries or cultures without imposing their "morals" or societal agreements .

    Quote Originally Posted by ENT
    Now which farmers are you referring to, what's the house of Windsor got to do with child brides, and what Protestant family business model are you raving on about.
    Farmers grow crops or raise/breed livestock which, when they reach maturity or age/weight etc, are sent to market, hopefully for profit. Some families, who have female children, also profit from selling/arranging an auspicious marriage to a wealthy/powerful family. This has gone on for centuries and continues to this day. My sister, because of her problems, will never be able to marry. My daughter is still young and will, I hope, eventually find somebody, of her choice, she loves enough she wants to marry.

    The Protestant business model is for all the believers to get their head down, put your back into it and take what your dues are. In the meanwhile being f**ked over by the ruling class, the windsors are a prime, current example. The alternative is to be a "selfish bastard" and be ostracised by society. It's up to you to choose.
    Last edited by OhOh; 17-10-2012 at 08:23 PM.

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    ENT
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    There are far more choices than you outline.
    Not all Europeans/Caucasians are Xtian or protestant, to start with, and the Windsors are an English family and not even a role model for the majority of English, let alone the rest of Europe, or China for that matter.

    I'm not ostracised by society for being an aetheist (for want of a better word), nor are my views modeled on moral premises other than humanist ones guided by science.

    In my view, the practice of child marriage, initially a pre-medieval Muslim tribal custom, is an abhorent practice that damages millions of girls every year and is in fact a form of female slavery with torture, and has to be outlawed, along with female circumcision and the extreme penalties of sharia law brought down especially on women.

    All these practices are mysogynic and barbaric, and the more they are exposed as such and openly condemned, the sooner people will be free.
    Attempting to uphold these practices by using the false guise of religion or ethnic cultural right is a shame upon the people who do so, and I for one condemn those who support these practices.
    Last edited by ENT; 18-10-2012 at 05:00 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ENT
    initially a pre-medieval Muslim tribal custom
    Practised by many rich and powerful men throughout the ages, not just Muslims.

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    No record of that with girls under the age of puberty, not even with the Greeks, nor caveman.

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    Mid
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    Quote Originally Posted by OhOh

    My daughter is young and I hope will someday find someone she loves enough to want to marry.
    and yet you are prepared to argue that arranged ( forced ) marriages are a good idea for others .

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    Quote Originally Posted by ENT
    No record of that with girls under the age of puberty, not even with the Greeks,
    Read some history, Greek, Roman, Chinese, European. You will find plenty of girls/woman married off as children or taken on as concubines.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mid
    and yet you are prepared to argue that arranged ( forced ) marriages are a good idea for others
    You obviously are unaware of how young western people take their liberties to heart. For good or bad they must try many ways of living themselves. One can only advise a correct path, the choices are up to them.

    I am prepared to allow other societies their freedom to choose a system which works for them.

    Last edited by OhOh; 18-10-2012 at 10:53 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OhOh

    I am prepared to allow other societies their freedom to choose a system which works for them.
    garbage and nothing more than a cop out .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mid View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by OhOh

    I am prepared to allow other societies their freedom to choose a system which works for them.
    garbage and nothing more than a cop out .
    You have evidence to prove both those statements I presume? Or do you find it difficult to allow a society to exist unless it adheres to your chosen style?

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    ENT
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    Quote Originally Posted by OhOh View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ENT
    No record of that with girls under the age of puberty, not even with the Greeks,
    Read some history, Greek, Roman, Chinese, European. You will find plenty of girls/woman married off as children or taken on as concubines.
    Having read history, there is no reference to the practice of taking children as concubines, or as wives until the practice was spread with Islam from Arabia.

    The Greeks and several other societies regarded pre-pubescent girls as almost holy, reserving them for temple services and rituals but not as sex objects.
    China didn't practice child marriage either, but promises of marriage were made between families for their children.

    Now, if you can actually give some references to specific instances of this practice in history, I'm sure readers would be interested to learn about it.

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    History not your subject eh?

    The Youngest Royal Brides in History - The Royal Forums


    Just one for you that the western media publishes. Gogl is your friend.
    Last edited by OhOh; 19-10-2012 at 09:53 PM.

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    There were exceptions, Margaret Beaufort who married Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond in 1455 at the age of 12 gave birth to the future King Henry VII when she was just 13.

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