National Geographic : 2011 Jun
• had advised us only that a wedding was planned for two teenage sisters. at in itself was risky to disclose, as in India girls may not legally marry before age 18. But the techniques used to en- courage the overlooking of illegal weddings--- neighborly conspiracy, appeals to family honor ---are more easily managed when the betrothed girls have at least reached puberty. e littlest daughters tend to be added on discreetly, their names kept o the invitations, the unannounced second or third bride at their own weddings. Rajani fell asleep before the ceremonials began. An uncle li ed her gently from her cot, hoisted her over one of his shoulders, and carried her in the moonlight toward the Hindu priest and the smoke of the sacred re and the guests on plastic chairs and her future husband, a ten-year-old boy with a golden turban on his head. ' toward child bride res- cue scenarios can be overwhelming: Snatch up the girl, punch out the nearby adults, and run. Just make it stop. Above my desk, I have taped to the wall a photograph of Rajani on her wedding night. In the picture it's dusk, six hours before the marriage ceremony, and her face is turned toward the camera, her eyes wide and untrou- bled, with the beginnings of a smile. I remember Cynthia Gorney is a contributing writer for the magazine. Stephanie Sinclair has documented the global issue of child marriage for nearly a decade. e photographs from India were supported by the Alexia Foundation.