By Sasha Pei-Silovo – EM TV, Port Moresby
Every year around the world, an estimated 14.2 million girls under the age of 18 are forcefully married off to men much older than they are. They fall pregnant, way ahead of their time, forcing their young, underdeveloped bodies to struggle to adapt to changes and putting the girls at high risk of health complications.
Papua New Guinea is no exception; and stands on par with other developing nations where early child marriages are common.
The financial state of a family, cultural practices and a lack of education are some of the known causes of early child marriage. In societies with strong traditional values and practices where girls are seen as an asset to marry off, it is even more challenging to convince communities to turn their backs on age-old teachings that have become a way of life for them.
The injustices faced by child brides has led a National Geographic Photographer, Stephanie Sinclair, to use images she has captured of child brides, to raise awareness and funds to support groups working to protect the rights of girls and who provide refuge for those forced into marriage.
She began taking the photographs when she was 16; driven by the personal stories of the girls she met and photographed around the world.
The series of photographs “Too Young To Wed” confronts the harsh realities that many girls face; subjected to abuse, health complications, psychological trauma, extreme poverty and made to rear children when they are still children themselves.
Learn more about the Too Young To Wed Series here.