HUFFINGTON POST
08/25/2015 06:30 pm ET Updated Aug 31, 2015

Heartbreaking Photos Show A Child Bride's Wedding In Bangladesh

Nearly one-third of Bangladeshi girls are married by age 15.
15-year-old Nasoin Akhter is consoled by a friend on the day of her wedding to a 32-year-old man, Aug. 20, 2015 in Manikganj,
Credit: Allison Joyce/Getty Images
15-year-old Nasoin Akhter is consoled by a friend on the day of her wedding to a 32-year-old man, Aug. 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh.

Child marriage in Bangladesh is a persistent problem despite minimum age laws and government vows to curtail the practice.

Nearly one-third of Bangladeshi girls are married by 15, the highest rate for that age group in the world, according to UNICEF.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced last year that child marriage would end in the nation by 2041, but a recent Human Rights Watch report points out that the government has taken few tangible measures to stop the practice. 

Poverty, poor access to education and cultural traditions help drive the prevalence of child marriage, the report notes. What's more, Bangladesh's vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change exacerbates those social problems.

Child brides are at serious risk of abuse and early pregnancy. Girls who are forced into marriage also often have to abandon their education, limiting their future economic security and social well being.

Photographer Allison Joyce documented a 15-year-old bride's wedding in the city of Manikganj, Bangladesh, on Aug. 20. The bride, Nasoin Akhter, appears distraught as she is made to marry a man more than twice her age. 

Joyce explained to WorldPost that though it is traditional to shed tears to mark the significance of the bride's departure from her familial home, she noticed a sadness and unspoken fear in Akhter even before the ceremony.

"She was withdrawn, quiet, and appeared very sad throughout the entire day," Joyce said.

<span><span>Nasoin Akhter looks out of a dressing room at a beauty parlour on the day of her wedding.</span></span>
Credit: Allison Joyce/Getty Images
Nasoin Akhter looks out of a dressing room at a beauty parlour on the day of her wedding.

Executive director of the women's rights division of Human Rights Watch Liesl Gerntholtz told WorldPost that while weeping is a custom sometimes seen in Bangladeshi weddings, many girls are aware of the impact of what marriage will mean.

“It’s difficult to say for sure whether [crying] is in response to that they don’t want to be married, but what I can say is that very many of the girls that we interviewed expressed very strong feelings about the impact of marriage on their lives," Gerntholtz explains.

"They talked about losing their education, they talked about getting pregnant too early and too often, they were afraid of the violence of the associated with child marriage.”

The powerful series of photos offers a glimpse into what Human Rights Watch calls an "epidemic" of child marriage.

Update: This article has been updated with quotes from Liesl Gerntholtz and Allison Joyce about the behavior of brides in Bangladesh and the impact of marriage on their lives.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated that nearly one-third of girls below the age of 15 in Bangladesh are married. Rather, according to Unicef, nearly a third of women age 20 to 49 reported being married by the age of 15.

  • 15-year-old Nasoin Akhter is bathed on the day of her wedding to a 32-year-old man, Aug. 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh.
    Credit: Allison Joyce/Getty Images
    15-year-old Nasoin Akhter is bathed on the day of her wedding to a 32-year-old man, Aug. 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh.
  • Gold wedding jewelry is laid out for 15-year-old Nasoin Akhter on the day of her wedding to a 32-year-old man, Aug. 20, 2015
    Credit: Allison Joyce/Getty Images
    Gold wedding jewelry is laid out for 15-year-old Nasoin Akhter on the day of her wedding to a 32-year-old man, Aug. 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh.
  • 15-year-old Nasoin Akhter stands in the doorway of a neighbor's home on the day of her wedding to a 32-year-old man, Aug. 20,
    Credit: Allison Joyce/Getty Images
    15-year-old Nasoin Akhter stands in the doorway of a neighbor's home on the day of her wedding to a 32-year-old man, Aug. 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh.
  • 15-year-old Nasoin Akhter has her makeup done at a beauty parlor on the day of her wedding to a 32-year-old man, Aug. 20, 201
    Credit: Allison Joyce/Getty Images
    15-year-old Nasoin Akhter has her makeup done at a beauty parlor on the day of her wedding to a 32-year-old man, Aug. 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh. 
  • 32-year-old Mohammad Hasamur Rahman arrives at&nbsp;his wedding venue on the day that he will marry 15-year-old Nasoin Akhter
    Credit: Allison Joyce/Getty Images
    32-year-old Mohammad Hasamur Rahman arrives at his wedding venue on the day that he will marry 15-year-old Nasoin Akhter, Aug. 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh.
  • 15-year-old Nasoin Akhter is led by relatives to a car that will take her to her new home on the day of her wedding to a 32-y
    Credit: Allison Joyce via Getty Images
    15-year-old Nasoin Akhter is led by relatives to a car that will take her to her new home on the day of her wedding to a 32-year-old man, Aug. 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh.
  • A relative drags&nbsp;15-year-old Nasoin Akhter onto a bed to pose for photographs on the day of her wedding to a 32-year-old
    Credit: Allison Joyce/Getty Images
    A relative drags 15-year-old Nasoin Akhter onto a bed to pose for photographs on the day of her wedding to a 32-year-old man, Aug. 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh.
  • 15-year-old Nasoin Akhter poses for a video on the day of her wedding to a 32-year-old man, Aug. 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangl
    Credit: Allison Joyce/Getty Images
    15-year-old Nasoin Akhter poses for a video on the day of her wedding to a 32-year-old man, Aug. 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh.
  • 32-year-old Mohammad Hasamur Rahman stands on a bed next to&nbsp;his new bride, 15-year-old Nasoin Akhter, Aug. 20, 2015 in M
    Credit: Allison Joyce/Getty Images
    32-year-old Mohammad Hasamur Rahman stands on a bed next to his new bride, 15-year-old Nasoin Akhter, Aug. 20, 2015 in Manikganj, Bangladesh. 
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