Photo by Stephanie Sinclair @stephsinclairpix // Josephine Kulea was 9 years old, every other week, one of her classmates would stop coming to school. One by one they were first circumcised and then married off to men more than 30 to 40 years older than them, many of whom were already married to other women. Kulea was somewhat fortunate. Though she was circumcised in preparation for marriage, she had the support of her mother, who championed her education and resisted family pressure to marry her off at a young age. Kulea has since helped create the @SamburuGirlsFoundation, which rescues girls escaping traditional practices, such as child marriage and female circumcision, also known as female genital mutilation / cutting (FGM/C). “[Our work] is very difficult, because there is no political will or support,” said Kulea, noting that even though the law supports her efforts, the very traditional community adamantly resists any change in these rituals. Earlier this year, Kenya became the 19th country to join the African Union's Campaign to End Child Marriage, which aims to speed up change across Africa by encouraging governments to develop strategies to raise awareness of child marriage and address it’s harmful repercussions. Since then, the effort has attracted a burgeoning roster of child advocates, from government officials and religious authorities to traditional leaders and former child brides—all committed to serving as champions of change in Africa.
This image is part of a 175-image exhibition titled “Too Young to Wed,” which is the inaugural exhibition at the new L’Arche du Photojournalisme, atop at the prestigious Grand Arche de la Defense in Puteaux, Paris. Many of the images were made #onassignment for @natgeo. The show, which opened June 1 and runs through Sept. 24, is complete with educational information about the dangers of #childmarriage and the efforts underway around the world to end the practice – including our work at our nonprofit organization of the same name, @TooYoungToWed. @letoitdelagrandearche #samburugirlsfoundation #girls #letgirlslearn #girlseducation #kenya #paris #africanchampionsforchange