Fifteen-year-old Sarita's face is covered before she is sent to her new home with her groom. The previous day, she and her sister, Maya, 8, were married to another set of siblings on the Hindu holy day of Akshaya Tritiya in North India. Child marriage is outlawed in many countries and international agreements forbid the practice, yet this tradition still spans continents, language and religion. Image by Stephanie Sinclair. India, 2010.
A group of young brides in the Al-Maras Village of Yemen. All of the girls were married between the ages of 14 and 16 years old. Child marriage is outlawed in many countries and international agreements forbid the practice yet this tradition still spans continents, language and religion. Image by Stephanie Sinclair. Yemen, 2010.

Photographer Stephanie Sinclair took first place in the contemporary issues/stories category of the 2012 World Press Photo contest for her work highlighting the practice of child marriage. Over an eight-year period, Sinclair traveled to Afghanistan, Ethiopia, India, Nepal and Yemen to complete her project Too Young to Wed: The Secret World of Child Brides. Her haunting photographs expose the painful consequences of this hidden tradition which impacts 51 million girls worldwide.

The World Press Photo is committed to supporting high standards in photojournalism and documentary photography. The foundation's annual contest brings global attention to chosen works through exhibitions and publications. View the full list of 2012 winners.

Sinclair's project was completed in conjunction with National Geographic which published an article on child marriage in the June 2011 issue. Her photos were also featured as a part of the Pulitzer Center's FotoWeek DC exhibit in October 2011.

View the full collection of winning photographs at World Press Photo.

Project

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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.

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