Read Anna Badkhen's account of child grooms in Afghanistan.
More than 50 million girls under the age of 17 in developing countries are married; millions more are at risk of being forced into child marriages. The practice is rife in Afghanistan, particularly in rural areas. Photographer Stephanie Sinclair captured some of these young women. The image above was selected as UNICEF's "Photo of 2007."
Faiz Mohammed, 40, and Ghulam Haider, 11, sit in her family's home prior to their wedding in the rural village of Damarda, Afghanistan, on Sept. 11, 2005. Ghulam said she is sad to be getting engaged as she wanted to be a teacher. Her favorite class was Dari, the local language, before she was made to drop out of school. Married girls are seldom found in school, which limits their economic and social opportunities. And parents sometimes remove their daughters from school to protect them from the possibility of sexual activity outside of wedlock -- which would virtually preclude their chances of getting a husband. Early pregnancies also result in an increase in complications during childbirth. It is hard to say exactly how many young marriages take place, but according to the Afghan Women's Ministry and women's NGOs, approximately 57 percent of Afghan girls get married before the legal age of 16.