Today is the International Day of the Girl Child. It is a U.N. event with a grand name and a powerful mission. Girls around the world, especially in lower-income countries, often face terrible things, from genital mutilation to child marriage to kidnapping. We asked five photographers, who devote much or all of their time to documenting the lives of global girls, to share photos with special significance and talk about the images.
Top photo: Nine months pregnant, Niruta, who is 14, arrives at her wedding in Kagati Village, Kathmandu Valley, Nepal on Jan. 23, 2007. Niruta moved in with the family of her 17-year-old husband-to-be and became pregnant when they were engaged — considered acceptable in her society. (Courtesy of Stephanie Sinclair)
Bottom photos: Sheldean Human of Pretoria, South Africa, was 7 when she was murdered, then raped, by a stranger in 2007. Furrer photographed her schoolmates: “These two girls represent a situation of incredible pain and loss but they are just so dignified. It breaks my heart.” (Mariella Furrer)
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Zebiba, 28, sits in her purple headscarf in the small clinic room, the cramping already beginning. She took the tablets early this morning. She is three months pregnant.
By 2 p.m., her abortion should be complete. She will return to her two children, now at school. She is divorcing their father, who has taken a second wife.
Thus far, she has refused pain medications. Her relief at the ease of this termination is palpable. “She was nervous coming here,” says the nurse.
A generation ago, botched abortions were the single biggest contributor to Ethiopia’s sky-high maternal mortality rate. Doctors in the largest public hospital in Addis Ababa, where Zebiba lives, still remember the time when three-quarters of the beds in the maternal ward were reserved purely for complications from such procedures.
Then, in 2005, the country liberalized its abortion law.
Today, it’s hard to find a health provider who’s seen more than one abortion-related death in the past five years. Although access to safe procedures and high quality care could still be expanded, doctors say that, increasingly, those who need an abortion can get one safely.
Read the full piece here: How Ethiopia solved its abortion problem
Photos by Heather Horn/GlobalPost
The percentage of young first-time mothers who are married is dropping, according to Fertility of Women in the United States: 2012.
In the early 1990s, at least half of all first births to mothers younger than age 23 occurred in marriage. Since 2005, more young mothers were cohabiting (38 percent) than were married (24 percent) at the time of their first birth. However, the majority of all women continue to have their first child within marriage.
Fertility of Women in the United States: 2012 uses data from the 2012 American Community Survey and the 2012 Current Population Survey. The report examines women’s marital status at the time of their first births, the completed fertility of women up to age 50 and the fertility patterns of young women. Fertility patterns are shown by race, ethnicity, age, citizenship and employment status, as well as state of residence.
The following are some highlights from the report on women and fertility:
- In June 2012, 75.4 million women in the United States were age 15 to 50, of which roughly 44 million, or 59 percent, were mothers.
- Of the 75.4 million women, 17 percent had one child, 23 percent had two children, 19 percent had three or more children, and 41 percent had not given birth to any children.
- Roughly 5 percent of all women age 15 to 50, 4.1 million women, reported giving birth in the 12 months prior to the survey. The highest share of births were to women age 25 to 34 (52.3 percent). Only 2.3 percent of births were to women age 45 to 50.
Women and girls are less likely to undergo female genital mutilation, or FGM, than 30 years ago. That’s the encouraging news from a UNICEF report on the controversial practice, presented this week at London’s first Girl Summit.
The rate has dropped in many of the 29 countries across Africa and the Middle East where FGM is practiced. In Kenya, for example, nearly half the girls age 15 to 19 were circumcised in 1980; in 2010 the rate was just under 20 percent.
But there’s a sobering side to the report. In countries like Somalia the rate has gone down slightly but is still over 90 percent.
And because the population is growing in parts of the world where the practice takes place, total numbers are on the rise. Unless the rate of decline picks up, another 63 million girls and women could be cut by 2050.
The report is “exciting and worrying,” says Susan Bissell, the chief of child protection at UNICEF. “The population growth will far surpass the gain we’ve been seeing if we don’t step it up.”
The report shows that more than 130 million girls and women have experienced some form of genital cutting or mutilation in 29 countries across Africa and the Middle East.
The practice involves removing, partially or completely, the female genitalia — sometimes just the clitoris, other times also the labia or “lips” that surround the vagina. In extreme cases, the vaginal opening is narrowed by sewing up the outer labia.
In many communities, the custom has long been perceived as a rite of passage into womanhood. Because sexual contact is painful, the practice is also seen as a way to prevent a woman from losing her virginity before marriage. Some see it as ensuring fidelity during marriage, as the procedure eliminates sexual pleasure.
Graph: This chart tracks the changing rates of female genital mutilation in a sampling of countries — and projects the rate needed to end FGM by 2030. (via UNICEF)
“I told my parents I would not get married now; I am too young for that. I would not be able to continue my study if I get married.”
Kalpona was 12 when her parents arranged for her to marry a man more than twice her age. A few days before the wedding, they agreed to let her continue with school instead.
In Bangladesh, 65% of girls are married as children. Pledge your support for ending child marriage within a generation:http://uni.cf/GS14
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that requiring family-owned corporations to pay for insurance coverage for contraception under the Affordable Care Act violated a federal law protecting religious freedom. It was, the dissent said, “a decision of startling breadth.”
The 5-to-4 ruling, which applied to two companies owned by Christian families, opened the door to challenges from other corporations over laws that they claim violate their religious liberty.
The decision, along with another closely divided one that dealt a blow to public-sector unions, ended the term with a bang. But the rulings could have had an even broader immediate impact.
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the court’s five more conservative justices, said a federal religious-freedom law applied to “closely held” for-profit corporations run on religious principles.
(From The New York Times)