A press release from the UNICEF website.
The American photographer Stephanie Sinclair is the winner of the international photo competition “UNICEF Photo of the Year”. Her photo shows a wedding couple in Afghanistan who could not be more opposite. The groom, Mohammed, looks much older than his 40 years. The bride, Ghulam, is still a child; she just turned 11. “The UNICEF Photo of the Year 2007 raises awareness about a worldwide problem. Millions of girls are married while they are still under age. Most of theses child brides are forever denied a self-determined life”, says UNICEF Patroness Eva Luise Köhler at the award ceremony in Berlin. According to UNICEF, there are about 60 million young women worldwide who were married before they came of age, half of them in South Asia.
The UNICEF Photo of the Year 2007 is one of a series of photos about child marriages taken by Stephanie Sinclair between 2005 and 2007 in Afghanistan, Nepal and Ethiopia. During a stay in Afghanistan, it consistently struck the 34-year old freelance photographer, how many young girls are married to much older men. She decided to raise awareness about this topic with her pictures. According to UNICEF estimates, about 50% of Afghan women are married before they turn 18. In Afghanistan, in most parts of South Asia and in Southern Africa, marriage is often seen as a business transaction that has nothing to do with personal desires. In this process, the bride is the article of trade - the younger she is, the higher the bride price. “What are you feeling today?” Stephanie Sinclair asked Ghulam on her engagement. “Nothing,” the bewildered girl answered. “I do not know this man. What am I supposed to feel?”
The part I put in boldface is intended to make clear that my post is not another religion bashing post. Because it is not religion, but it is culture in backwater parts of the world that deserve criticism. Unfortunately there are too many misguided folks in Western Europe and Canada, (but I repeat myself), who think the backwater cultures should not be criticized.
Michelle Malkin has this up at her website. One of the commenters, Rational Thought, posted
Mark Steyn is being called before a Canadian “human rights commission” for the crime of pointing out in his best-selling book “America Alone” that the flavor is Islam illustrated in that photo above is incompatible with Western democracy. We musn’t criticize such multiculturalism because, you know, that 11-year-old girl really wants to be raped by that nasty old deviant. She has 2 choices: submit to the rape, or have her father/uncles/cousins slit her throat. But, hey, don’t you dare call such practices incompatible with Western democracy. Don’t you dare. God help us. Where’s the outrage?
I really do not want to criticize a religion. I just want to criticize any and all actions that are incompatible with Western Democracy. And this liberty to be free to speak out is non-negotiable with me.