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Child marriage continues cycle of abuse, poverty for girls in more than 50 countries

Published: Thursday, Oct. 11 2012 4:31 p.m. MDT

Faiz, 40, and Ghulam, 11, sit in her home prior to their wedding in the rural Damarda Village, Afghanistan on Sept. 11, 2005. Ghulam said she is sad to be getting engaged as she wanted to be a teacher. (Stephanie Sinclair, Courtesy of NBCNews.com) Faiz, 40, and Ghulam, 11, sit in her home prior to their wedding in the rural Damarda Village, Afghanistan on Sept. 11, 2005. Ghulam said she is sad to be getting engaged as she wanted to be a teacher. (Stephanie Sinclair, Courtesy of NBCNews.com)

Our take: Oct. 11 marked first international Day of the Girl, sponsored by the U.N. This year's focus was forced child marriages. Nearly 10 million girls under the age of 18 are forced into marriage annually.

While many have used the power of story telling to bring awareness to these girls' plights, photojournalist Stephanie Sinclair is spreading the word through her haunting photographs of child brides.

Sinclair sat down with NBC's photoblog to discuss what started her on this journey and the young girls she has met along the way.

Married at the age of 8. That fact alone is hard to fathom. It's even more difficult to stomach when you think of the resulting forced sex, physical abuse and early pregnancies that often result. But for girls in more than 50 countries around the world and in the U.S., this is their reality. The reality of child marriage.

Photojournalist Stephanie Sinclair has been documenting this issue around the world since 2003. A large body of her work was published in recent weeks in National Geographic.

We asked Sinclair to tell us more about her reporting:

How did you come up with this story idea and how long have you been reporting it?

I started this project on child marriage in 2003, after meeting several girls who had set themselves on fire in Herat, Afghanistan. I noticed that many of the girls who had self-immolated had been married at very young ages, in many cases prepubescent. It was the first time Id ever encountered anyone who had been married so young.

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