Powerful images of child brides that put a human face on this human rights violation are on display in Washington, D.C., this week. Nearly 39,000 girls under the age of 18 are married each day, a sad fact that the Too Young to Wed exhibit addresses on a deeply emotional level.
"Child marriage is an appalling violation of human rights and robs girls of their education, health and long-term prospects," according to UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin. "A girl who is married as a child is one whose potential will not be fulfilled. Since many parents and communities also want the very best for their daughters, we must work together and end child marriage."
About 16 million girls aged 15-19, most of them married, give birth each year, at considerable risk to their health and well-being. The leading cause of death among girls age 15-19 is complications from childbirth and pregnancy.
The photographs by VII photographer Stephanie Sinclair are on display in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building. The exhibit, launched at the United Nations in New York on Oct. 11, 2012—the first International Day of the Girl Child—just wrapped up a month-long visit to Ottawa, Canada, organized by UNFPA, the Canadian Parliament and VII, a photo agency that represents Ms. Sinclair and some 30 other photographers.
In a panel discussion today, representatives from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), the Ford Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Girls Not Brides USA, as well as Stephanie Sinclair, the award-winning photographer behind the exhibit, discussed the importance of curbing the practice of child marriage, presented strategies that have met with success and took questions from the audience.
The exhibit will be travelling to Montreal, then on to the Nordic countries later in 2013.