Lesson Plans

Too Young to Wed: The Secret World of Child Brides [Documentary Screening and Discussion]

Image by Stephanie Sinclair. Afghanistan.

Image by Stephanie Sinclair. Afghanistan.

Throughout the world, more than 51 million girls below the age of 18 are currently married. This harmful traditional practice spans continents, language, religion and caste. Image by Stephanie Sinclair. Afghanistan.

Warm-up:

Today, we are going to watch and analyze a short documentary that illuminates the issue of child marriage. Take a look at the following stills from the documentary. They are photographs taken by multimedia journalist Stephanie Sinclair in multiple countries for her reporting project “Too Young to Wed.”

Image by Stephanie Sinclair. Yemen.

Image by Stephanie Sinclair. Yemen.

Image by Stephanie Sinclair. Yemen.

Image by Stephanie Sinclair. India.

Image by Stephanie Sinclair. India.

Image by Stephanie Sinclair. India.

Image by Stephanie Sinclair. Afghanistan.

Image by Stephanie Sinclair. Afghanistan.

Image by Stephanie Sinclair. Afghanistan.

These photos present four different pairs of brides and grooms in three different countries (Yemen, India, and Afghanistan). Work with a partner to complete the following activities:

  1. Discuss: What emotions are presented in these photographs? How do the subjects seem to feel? How do the photos make you feel?
  2. Write down three things you can learn about child marriage by looking at these photos.
  3. Compare and contrast between these photos. What do the people and circumstances presented have in common? What differences can you see?

Introducing Resource 1: "Too Young to Wed: The Secret World of Child Brides"

Every year, throughout the world, millions of young girls are forced into marriage. Child marriage is outlawed in many countries and international agreements forbid the practice yet this tradition still spans continents, language, religion, and class.

Over an eight-year period, photojournalist Stephanie Sinclair investigated the phenomenon of child marriage in India, Yemen, Afghanistan, Nepal, and Ethiopia. Through the multimedia documentary we will screen today, she synthesizes this body of work into a call to action.

This video contains graphic descriptions of physical and sexual violence. If you feel the need to leave the room during the screening, feel free to do so quietly.

Discussion:

1. Comprehension check: How many young girls are projected to be married over the next decade?

2. Turn and talk: While international law prohibits child marriage and many of the cultures you may be most familiar with disparage the custom, some people and some cultures encourage child marriage. Do you agree with the documentary that child marriage needs to end? If so, explain why in your own words.

3. Few child brides continue to get an education after being married. Stephanie Sinclair says that “by curtailing girls’ education, [the girls’ families] are only perpetuating the cycle of poverty.” Explain.

4. With a partner, fill in the following table.

Person(s) affected by child marriage

What barriers discourage them from rejecting child marriage?

The bride

 

 

The groom

 

 

The bride's family

 

 

The groom's family

 

 

The community

 

 

 

4. Discuss your answers as a class. Did any of your classmates come up with answers you hadn’t considered? If so, add them to your table.

Extension Activities:

Option 1. Read Stephanie Sinclair’s essay “Child Marriage: Documenting Sorrow” on her experience reporting on this topic and creating the documentary you watched. Write a one-page response to the following question: What is a journalist’s responsibility when researching, reporting on, and publishing stories about human rights abuses and suffering?

Option 2. Read this quote from the "Too Young to Wed" reporting project description: "Throughout the world, more than 51 million girls below the age of 18 are currently married. This harmful traditional practice spans continents, language, religion and caste." Just how widely does the practice of child marriage span? The problem exists in many states across the U.S. today. Research your own state's legal requirements for marriage: How old do the bride and groom have to be with parents' consent? How old do they have to be without parents' consent? Write a one-page summary of your research that discusses child marriage practices in your own community (town, state, country) and what is being done to combat them.

Option 3. Conduct a project to raise awareness of child marriage among members of your community. Some ideas include:

  • Start a social media campaign spreading facts about child marriage and linking to the stories of the girls affected by the practice. You can find more stories, images, and videos at "Too Young to Wed," a foundation and website created by Stephanie Sinclair: www.tooyoungtowed.org
  • Create an art exhibit or an open mic at your school that envisions what childhood should look like. Include information about how child marriage takes away the childhood girls should have.
  • Conduct a fundraiser for an organization working to end child marriage, or contact one of their representatives to ask how you can help.

Share news of your finished project with "Too Young to Wed" by emailing action@tooyoungtowed.org

Option 4. Contact education@pulitzercenter.org to Skype with a journalist who has reported on child marriage or related issues.

Educator Notes: 

The video contains graphic descriptions of physical and sexual abuse of young women and girls. It also includes images of physical violence. Students should be given the option to leave the room if the content is too sensitive for them. The class should also be reminded of in-school and/or local services available to them should the video bring up concerns or emotions they would like to talk about with a professional.

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