martes, 8 de marzo de 2011

On how the traditional process from never been kissed to first kiss and you may kiss the bride lost its track and most important ally: time. And (...)

Original Title: On how the traditional process from never been kissed to first kiss and you may kiss the bride lost its track and most important ally: time. And by some means became so obsolete that gave birth a couple of words that shook us all; Child Bride // or how a girl (interrupted) is just a kiss away from whatever awaits her in life.

Ghulam Haider, 11, is to be married to Faiz Mohammed, 40. She had hoped to be a teacher
but was forced to quit her classes when she became engaged.
Photograph taken by Stephanie Sinclair / Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.


It´s well known that politicians, lawyers, journalists, teachers, business men, housewives, street vendors and all the people that are part of our society read the paper every morning. So back in 2007 when I got to my desk in the department of photography I was shocked when a co-worker asked me with her eyes wide opened if I´ve read the paper that morning.

Family and friends gathered to celebrate Ghulam's engagement. The father of the bride,
Mahmoud Haider, 32, said he is unhappy giving his daughter away at such a young age, but
has no choice due to severe poverty. Photograph taken by Stephanie Sinclair / Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.

I’m just arriving girl, gimme a break! I replied with a bit of indolence. Ac/dc is still rocking in my iPod and I gotta go buy some breakfast. She turned around and left my desk while I was turning on my computer and taking off my backpack. She returned a few minutes later and threw me a newspaper to my chest and said; “Explain this to me, ´cause I don’t understand. Do you?”.

In Afghanistan, some daughters sent off to be married are just children.
Photograph taken by Stephanie Sinclair / Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.


I picked up the front page and all I thought was “Who…What…Who is that man???”. It was a photo of a girl with an old man sitting next to each other. The caption of the photo was “Portrait of soon to be wed Faiz Mohammed, 40, and Ghulam Haider, 11, at her home in a rural village of Damarda in Ghor province.”

Majabin Mohammed, 13, left, sits with her husband of six months, Mohammed Fazal, 45,
his first wife and their child. // Photograph taken by Stephanie Sinclair / Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.


"The girl's life was interrupted." She told me. And she was right. I was looking at a child whose was a kiss away to be somebody´s wife and the scene was bizarre. Dishonesty and the feeling of a stolen destiny and dreams were portrayed in that picture, a picture I couldn´t take my eyes off the photo.

Majabin was given away as payment for a gambling debt.
Photograph taken by Stephanie Sinclair / Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.


There was no sense in trying to find a justification. I´ve heard of Children getting married in some countries but this is what does good journalism; it slaps you in the face with truth and leaves you with a disillusion that won´t leave you in a long time.

Roshan Qasem, 11, will join the household of Said Mohammed, 55; his first wife;
their three sons; and their daughter, who is the same age as Roshan. Photograph taken
by Stephanie Sinclair / Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.


It´s a situation where there is no gain, it´s only less and less and less. The girl is the photograph wanted to go to school, become a teacher, be independent, own her own house and someday be a mother. Needless to say, such things are never going to be part of her life.

The girl's wishes are customarily disregarded, and her marriage will end her opportunities
for schooling and independent work. // Photograph taken by Stephanie Sinclair /
Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.


American photojournalist Stephanie Sinclair took this series of photographs known all “Child Brides”.

Portrait of American photojournalist Stephanie Sinclair / Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.

Sinclair is well known for getting access and become invisible in intimacy situations. After she graduated from the University of Florida with a BS in Journalism and Fine Art photography she started to work for the Chicago Tribute and later was sent to cover the early stage of the war in Iraq.

With such experiences, she moved then to Beirut, Lebanon and covered the region for six years as a freelance photographer. She joined the famous photo agency VII when it was formed in 2008 and became a full member of VII in 2009.

She won the “Unicef Photo of the Year 2007” for her photograph of the engagement party of 11-year-old Ghulam Haider to 40-year-old Faiz Mohammed. Because of that award her work was even more known in countries in South America.

Photograph taken by Stephanie Pilick/EPA / Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.

Sinclair discreetly took the girl aside when she took the photograph and asked the girl: “What are you feeling today?”. The girl answered: “Nothing, I do not know this man. What am I supposed to feel?”.

Ironically, the only sound that generates the photographs is silence. That´s what every person do when they see the photograph. They can´t understand it and can´t or won´t follow the story beyond the first look, most people prefer to let it go and keep it as a ghost in the back of their mind.

Husbands are not ordinarily old enough to be their wives' fathers or grandfathers //
Photograph taken by Stephanie Sinclair / Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.


Some facts: "Parents sometimes remove their daughters from school to protect them from the possibility of sexual activity outside of wedlock. It is hard to say exactly how many young marriages take place, but according to the Afghan women’s ministry and women’s NGOs, approximately 57 percent of Afghan girls get married before the legal age of 16. In addition, once the girl’s father has agreed to the engagement, she is pulled out of school immediately. Early pregnancies also result in an increase in complications during child birth.
These Child brides are often seen as payment to others men. The father of a girl can offer her as compensation if he loses in a gambling game or to pay for services."

Photograph taken by Stephanie Sinclair / Used only for purposes of illustration/nonprofit.

Paraphrasing Bob Dylan, I can think of a lyric of one of his songs named Desolation road, in which he sings; “Now Ophelia, she's 'neath the window, For her I feel so afraid, On her twenty-second birthday, She will be already an old maid.

Almost 4 years later, people still talk about this work everywhere and we all wonder what happened to these girls, these child brides.

Stephanie Sinclair´s official site can be seen here.
Stephanie Sinclair´s most recent work can be seen here.
All photographs are used for purposes of illustration/ nonprofit.

Thank you friends! see you on the road.
good luck!

Bye!
Written by Jesus Rodriguez
Feel free to comment!
jrphotojournalist@gmail.com

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