Photo Op: Child Brides in Afghanistan A photo essay featuring Afghan men and brides as young as 11 will appear in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine. Photographer Stephanie Sinclair shares her experiences on the photo shoot with Alex Chadwick.
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Photo Op: Child Brides in Afghanistan

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Photo Op: Child Brides in Afghanistan

Photo Op: Child Brides in Afghanistan

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Photo Op, the DAY TO DAY occasional series on photography, with a Web component. Go to now, you can see the pictures we're about to talk about. They are amazing. Sunday's New York Times magazine features The Bride Price by Stephanie Sinclair, photos of young women in Afghanistan who are about to marry or have just married men decades older. There are just three images of the man and the girl, seated beside each other.

I spoke earlier with Stephanie Sinclair from her home in Beirut, Lebanon.

Ms. STEPHANIE SINCLAIR (Photographer, New York Times Magazine): This is a story that I wanted to do after working in Afghanistan for a while on various women's issues stories. Like most of the problems that women had, the thing they had in common was that most of these girls were very young when they were married. And so I wanted to look into how this affected what happened to these girls. How young are they when they're married?

CHADWICK: Well, these girls - two of them are 11. One is 13. The husbands are 40 and 44, and one 55 years old.

Ms. SINCLAIR: Yes, this is correct.

CHADWICK: And the look in the faces of these girls, one of them seems to be in despair. One is covering her face with her hands and - is she laughing?

Ms. SINCLAIR: Yes, she's laughing. And it's disputed on whether she is actually 11. I mean, they don't really understand their ages, you know, there, they don't really keep track. I would guess she's actually closer to eight, but the family said she was 11. And it was the day of her engagement party, and everyone - you know, she was just playing with the other kids. And she just thought - she was just playing like peek-a-boo with me while I was taking the pictures.

CHADWICK: Do you mean these pictures to shock? Because even though photos these days have almost lost their ability to do that, these pictures do.

Ms. SINCLAIR: You know, I didn't really set out to shock people. I went out to kind of just explore for myself. And this is what I came across. And I had to get this out there. I mean, I suspected that these girls were this young when they were married. And they're not given an option.

Once I saw these girls and met them, and, you know, realized that they were pulled out of school, and these types of things, I really felt like I had to keep working on this. And just be a voice for them, because they're not adults, and they can't speak out for themselves. And so I felt like, more than other stories I've done, I really had to do this for those girls and for other girls like them.

CHADWICK: You live in an Islamic culture now. Do you think about how Americans will see these images and respond with horror for these practices and regard them almost as barbaric?

Ms. SINCLAIR: I've thought a lot about that. I mean, we've done things in our country not that long ago that we would have considered barbaric, you know, like slavery, for instance. So that's what I'm hoping to do with these pictures, is kind of raise awareness and bring attention to the fact that this is a cultural tradition that is not fair to these girls. Just like slavery wasn't fair to African-Americans in the states.

CHADWICK: Photographer Stephanie Sinclair, her photo feature, The Bride Price, is in the New York Times magazine that will be out on Sunday.

Stephanie, thank you.

Ms. SINCLAIR: Thank you very much, Alex.

CHADWICK: Dear listeners, you can see Stephanie's photos at our website, Go take a look. They're really worth seeing.

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