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UNICEF Germany 'Photo Of The Year': Early Marriage

UNICEF Germany 'Photo of the Year' raises awareness about early marriage

NEW YORK, USA, 24 December 2007 - US photographer Stephanie Sinclair is the winner of this year's 'Photo of the Year' competition presented by the German National Committee for UNICEF.


Ms. Sinclair's photo shows a wedding couple in Afghanistan. The groom, Mohammed, is 40 years old and the bride, Ghulam, is still a child; she has just turned 11.

The image "raises awareness about a worldwide problem," UNICEF patroness Eva Luise Köhler said at the award ceremony in Berlin. "Millions of girls are married while they are still under-age. Most of theses child brides are forever denied a self-determined life."

Worldwide, some 60 million young women were married before they came of age, half of them in South Asia.

'I do not know this man'

Presenting the award for the eighth time this year, UNICEF Germany holds the competition to honour photographs of high artistic and photojournalistic quality that capture the living conditions of children around the world. The competition is supported by the magazine GEO Germany and Citibank Germany.

The winning image is one of a series of photos about child marriages taken by Ms. Sinclair between 2005 and 2007 in Afghanistan, Nepal and Ethiopia.

UNICEF estimates that about half of Afghan women are married before they turn 18. In Afghanistan, most parts of South Asia, Southern Africa and other regions, 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?" Ms. Sinclair recalled asking Ghulam with regard to her engagement. "Nothing," the bewildered girl answered. "I do not know this man. What am I supposed to feel?"

Awarded by a jury of experts

The other 'Photo of the Year' 2007 awards announced in Berlin included the following:

Second prize went to GMB Akash (Panos Pictures) of Bangladesh for his portrait of a child labourer in a brickyard. UNICEF estimates that about 4.7 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 in Bangladesh are working, often in hazardous conditions

Third prize was awarded to German photographer Hartmut Schwarzbach (Argus) for his picture of Annalyn, a malnourished and stunted girl celebrating her ninth birthday outside a garbage dump near the Philippine capital of Manila.

The prizes in the photo competition are awarded by a jury that includes the panel's Chairman, Klaus Honnef, Professor of Photography; Ruth Eichhorn, Senior Picture Editor of GEO Magazine; Lutz Fischmann, Managing Director of Freelens e.V., Hamburg; Bernd von Jutrczenka, Picture Editor-in-Chief of dpa; Christian Pohlert, Senior Picture Editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung; and Reinhard Schlagintweit, UNICEF Germany board member.


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