Entry Title: "Legacy of an Afghan Child Bride"
Name: Gloriann Liu , United States
Category and Expertise: Editorial, Non-Professional


Entry Description: Afghanistan is a society steeped in tradition, with early marriage for minor, uneducated girls being one of the many traditions that will affect its future as a prosperous country. Zarghona’s story is not a unique one. My hope in telling her story is to create an interest with my viewers in the recurring global problem of girls marrying at too young an age. It is a problem that can only be solved with proper education for all girls and boys. Before we as outsiders rush to judgment, we must understand the dire economic circumstances faced by some of these families.

Story: In February 2015 I met with a friend, Zarghona, in Kabul, Afghanistan. The first time I worked with her was in 2013. At that time I was working on another project, “Forgotten Afghanistan”, photographing and interviewing the wounded from forty years of war. Zarghona’s youngest son, Barialy, was crippled as a boy during the Civil War. While learning about her son I became interested in the entire family. The winter of 2013 was treacherous and the snow heavy and wet. Their home in The Old City had been built ten years previously out of adobe brick. One evening while I was in Afghanistan the roof began to collapse from the snow’s weight. The first day that Zarghona went to survey the damage she allowed me to go with her. I shot as she emotionally broke, viewing the remains of all of her earthly possessions. When I returned in 2014 I found Zarghona working (begging). She works with her invalid son every day until she makes ten dollars, enough to buy the day’s bread. She was then living in an upstairs apartment in the Shah Said district of Kabul. During my visits with her on this trip I learned about her history as a child. She had become a bride at ten. Zarghona had been sold by her father to her husband Ghulam-Faroog, a widower, fifty years old at the time. His wife had died and left him with three children older than Zarghona. Losing her childhood, she discontinued her education and became a servant in the household. The family had a laundry and Zarghona was immediately put to work, also doing most of the household chores. Zarghona had two miscarriages before she was fifteen. At sixteen she gave birth to her first child, the eldest of her six children. So, the story that I was photographing became a story of the later life of an Afghan child bride. Zarghona’s life as a child bride is perhaps not as tragic as many other women put in the same circumstances in Afghanistan. [Between 60 to 80 percent of women in Afghanistan are forced into an underage marriage.] But, she has lived her life in a loveless marriage and now faces a bleak future with an aging, handicapped son that she can no longer carry, and a husband, 94, who is now dependent on her as well. Afghanistan is a society steeped in tradition, with early marriage for minor, uneducated girls being one of the many traditions that will affect its future as a prosperous country. Zarghona’s story is not a unique one. My hope in telling her story is to create an interest with my viewers in the recurring global problem of girls marrying at too young an age. It is a problem that can only be solved with proper education for all girls and boys. But before we as outsiders rush to judgment, we must understand the dire economic circumstances faced by some of these families.

About the Artist: