October 11, 2012

International Day of the Girl Child - Today

Millions of girls every year are forced into marriage. Please help stop this archaic, cruel practice.

As a daughter, sister and mother, this topic is close to my heart. In more than 50 countries millions of girls as young as six years old are still forced into marriage with adult men. These girls face a life of abuse and torment. Uneducated, marginalized and persecuted by the families into which they are married, child brides lose their chance to be children free to play and explore, they lose the opportunity to better themselves and are denied basic human rights.

"I was given to my husband when I was little and
 I don't even remember when I was given 
because I was so little.
 It's my husband who brought me up"
 Kanas (18 at interview) - 
Photograph (C) Stephanie Sinclair 

At Visa pour l’Image this year in Perpignan, France, photojournalist Stephanie Sinclair won the prestigious Visa d’Or feature award for her eight-year photographic study of child brides in Yemen, Afghanistan, Nepal, Ethiopia and India. Sinclair along with agency VII and the UN Population Fund have launched an interactive website – Too Young To Wed - to support and promote the International Day of the Girl Child and to encourage greater awareness of the plight of millions of innocent young girls forced into marriage and a life of servitude and abuse. Sinclair is also a grantee of the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. She is one of a number of photojournalists who are focused on bringing the stories of these tragic, girl children to the world.

From the Too Young to Wed website - "So young are some girls that they hold onto their toys during the wedding ceremony. Usually these girls become mothers in their early teens, while they are still children themselves...Protect girls' rights. End child marriage".

"Today, there are more than 67 million brides who were married as children. That's nearly double the number of girls who attend school every day in North America and Western Europe combined."

Knowledge is power. Share this information today with those in your own community. The more people who stand against child marriage the greater the likelihood for change. These girls need our help, for they have no voice of their own. Please visit Too Young To Wed and take action today. 

(Above) “Nujood Ali was 10 years old when she fled her abusive, much older husband and took a taxi to the courthouse in Sanaa, Yemen. The girl's courageous act -- and the landmark legal battle that ensued -- turned her into an international heroine for women's rights” from the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. © Stephanie Sinclair. Yemen, 2010.

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