Photographing the Milky Way

Your content will be up shortly. Please allow up to 5 seconds

The Horror Behind Child Marriage: Child Brides (GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING)

By Joseph Cha on November 4th 2013

Child Brides

I am always amazed by the power in photography as a medium for conveying messages and ideas. Photojournalism provides the opportunity for news and information to take on a completely new meaning and persona as viewers are able to visualize and internalize photos far easier than text on a page.

When I think of a Bride, I imagine a happy woman who’s been planning a wedding for months, and who’s surrounded by people she loves. In many societies, marriage is a joyous occasion between two consenting adults who can’t wait to spend their lives together. Unfortunately in some places in the world, that is not the case.

Child marriage ruins the childhood and ordinary life experiences for many young girls. Many of these “brides” are still children, not even teenagers yet. Child brides don’t have access to education, have restricted relationships with friends and family, and this practice adds to the vicious cycle of poverty. Child brides are also subject to extreme domestic and sexual abuse, causing physical harm and dangerous pregnancies.


Portrait of Said Mohammed, 55, and Roshan, 8, on the day of their engagement in the village of Chavosh in Ghor province. Father of the bride, Abdul Kasem, 60, said he is unhappy giving his daughter away at such a young age, but has no choice due to severe poverty. ‘I am very poor and have many problems,’ Abdul Qasem said. ‘I need money and I have three other daughters. Do you think I want to marry my daughter so young?’


Police woman Malalai Kakar arrests Janan, 35, after he tried to kill his fifteen-year-old wife Jamila. The young bride angered him by fleeing her home to stay with her mother after enduring years of abuse from her husband and mother-in-law. Janan came to the mother’s house to kill Jamila for leaving their home, and ended up stabbing Jamilia’s grandmother multiple times as well when she tried to cover Jamlia with her body to protect her. Jamila was engaged at when she was only a 1-year-old and was married at 10. As a premature bride, she lacked the skills to be a proper wife, which resulted in the abuse she received. Jamila’s mother, Malika, said, ‘I kept my daughter at my house and hoped to explain to my son-in-law why he should not beat her, but he barged into the house and tried to kill her.’

From viiphoto:

“Child marriage robs girls of the ordinary life experiences other young people take for granted. It denies their right to education, often restricts friendships with peers and perpetuates the cycle of poverty in their communities.

Young married girls have little power in relation to their husbands and in-laws in many of these cultures. They are therefore extremely vulnerable to domestic violence. This violence may include physical, sexual or psychological abuse. The experience of pregnancy can also be traumatizing for a girl who is still a child herself. She is more likely to have obstructed labor as her small body may be compromised during childbirth. Prolonged obstructed labor can then lead to fistula, a debilitating condition where the girl can no longer control her urine and bowel movements. Child brides also have double the pregnancy death rate of women in their 20s.”


A rose is held up to the face of Rokhshana who was near death at Herat Public Hospital. She set herself on fire when her husband, who left her to go to Iran 14 years earlier, demanded she return to him. She was only 10 when they were married.


Fauza sits naked while waiting for new dressings to be put on her burns. She denies burning herself on purpose, which is often the case for fear of being an embarassment or being treated poorly by hospital staff, but relatives confirm that that she self-immolated. NGOs in Herat Province have reported a sharp rise in the number of young wives who douse themselves in kerosene and burn themselves in an effort to get away from their husbands.


Female family members mourn outside the home of Rokhshana in the village of Yakhdaan the day of the funeral, as cultural traditions forbids women to attend funerals. Rokhshana set herself on fire when her husband, whom she married at age 10, demanded she return to him after 14 years abroad. She died in the hospital from her wounds.


A nine-months pregnant Niruta, 14, arrives at the wedding ceremony. Niruta moved in with the family of Durga Bahadur Balami, 17, and became pregnant when they were only engaged. In some circles of the more socially open Newar people, this is permissible.


A young prostitute named China sits stunned after being beat up by a man visiting Kabele Five. Many of the girls running away from child marriages end up trafficked to brothels where they face incredible violence.

How to Help

UNFPA, The United Nations Population Fund: This organization helps young girls in danger of child marriage by supporting them in school, life skills, and reproductive health. The UNFPA also works with communities to develop policies that support adolescent girls and end the practice of child marriage once and for all.

To find out more on how you can help fight against Child Marriage, visit their website at

[source: viiphoto]


I’m a photographer and cinematographer based in Southern California. When I don’t have a camera in my face I enjoy going to the movies and dissecting the story telling and visual aesthetics.

Q&A Discussions

Please or register to post a comment.

  1. Throwback Thursdays: 11/7/13

    […] adults who can’t wait to spend their lives together. Unfortunately in some places in the world, that is not the case. Warning: Graphic […]

    | |
  2. Karl Petersson

    I think this is utterly depressing that people has to make this into a christianity vs islamic debate.
    Cruelty and sick minds does unfortunately exist everywhere and to make this into we and them situation is to make it easy for us to recognise the abuse some humans does to other humans.
    We need to address this as a human and cultural condition and not trying to make find comfortable scapegoats by idiosyncratic “them” identity.
    I have no easy solutions to this kind of atrocities but instead of shooting abuse on the street or on an anonymous website would be to act and work for a better situation.
    The old cliche that if you don’t have a constructive alternative then it might be better to shut up makes more and more sense on the comment messages.
    Please flame me if you feel it would make the situation better.

    | |
  3. msn

    Kudos. This is an important story to get out.
    Thank you for capturing and sharing it, ugly though it might be.

    | |
  4. Southern Curmudgeon

    So this is the ‘Peaceful’ religion of islam; pedophiles and child/wife abusers.

    | |
    • msn

      I know, right?!
      Thank goodness we have no pedophiles and child/wife abusers among Christians. ;)

      | |
    • Freeman

      MSN, pedophilia and child/wife abuse in Christianity is not preached, practiced and accepted as being normal. To identify ‘pedophilia and child/wife abuse’ as being the problem that leads to what we are seeing here is incorrect. The actual issue is that within Islamic belief children and women are not considered to be human and sacred in their own right, but property of the husband or father. Therefore if a man beats his wife to death for offending him, he is praised and considered to be a good Muslim, a defender and practitioner of what is right and good. To say that this is the same in Christianity is grossly offensive, not to mention being utterly wrong. Your are right in saying “Kudos. This is an important story to get out.” But you would be more accurate if you said “Kudos. It is important that the truth of this side of Islam is exposed”

      | |
    • Moussa Roberts

      I think ppl need to read and research for themselves what others think and see you may not find, it’s wrong and shameful to see this happening in a religion I belong too, I see the pain of the father that marry his daughter due to property it’s wicked some may say but put on his shoe and walk his land you may do far worst still I don’t agree with him, in closing our messenger Muhammed S. A.w said: the best of you is who treat their women well
      Also paradise is at the feet of your mother
      So please don’t judge Islam due to the behaviors of a few follower if we did the same Christianity has a decorated history………..rape, murder, genocide. ……just a few
      Peace is for who follow the commands of god

      | |
    • msn


      Dude, have you read the Bible? Go back and have another peek.

      And I am just going to go out on a limb and say you don’t know a single Muslim. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong. But I’m not, am I?


      | |
  5. Antony from Photography Directory

    This is heart wrenching! Wonder what the government does. Sigh!

    | |
  6. Childrens View of War Photographed With Toys

    […] [Rewind: Horrors of Child Marriage] […]

    | |
  7. Lee

    Just punks using culture/religion to cover up their insecurities

    | |
  8. W

    Powerful photojournalism, man… I know there’s probably lots more of cultural things that we might not understand, but facing abuse, brutality, and desperation is a tough pill of reality to swallow.

    | |