In pictures: the faces of child brides in Bangladesh

Girls' education

Nasoin Akhter is 15 years old. She sits with relatives to pose for photographs on August 20 – the day of her wedding to a 32-year-old man in Bangladesh.

The South Asian country – where 1.5 million children are out of school – has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. The United Nations children’s agency UNICEF says more than a third of girls marry before the age of 15 and 66% of girls before 18.

Most young brides drop out of school. Pregnant girls from 15 to 20 are twice as likely to die in childbirth than those 20 or older, while girls under 15 are at five times the risk.

In June, a report by Human Rights Watch accused the Bangladeshi government of failing to take sufficient steps to prevent child marriage. Heather Barr, senior researcher on women’s rights at HWR, said: “Child marriage is an epidemic in Bangladesh and only worsens with natural disasters.”

The report said poor families often marry off their children because they are unable to feed them or pay for their education, because of sexual harassment of unmarried girls and due to social pressures and traditions in some communities.

Photographer Allison Joyce took this set of pictures on August 19 and 20 in Manikganj district in the centre of the country. You can find out more here about the issue of child marriage and how it affects girls’ education.

Nasoin looks out of a dressing room at a beauty parlour on the day of her wedding.

32-year-old Mohammad Hasamur Rahman poses for photographs with his new bride, 15-year-old Nasoin.

Mousammat Akhi Akhter, 14, at her home in Manikganj. Last year, when she was only 13, she got married to a 27-year-old man. She had finished sixth grade and wanted to wait until she was older to get married – but she says her parents felt social pressure to marry her young.

Mousammat stands at home against a photograph of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding leader of Bangladesh.

14-year-old Shima Akhter on the front porch of her home in Manikganj. Last year, when she was 13, Shima married an 18-year-old man.

Shima in a photograph with her husband Mohammad Solaiman.

Two organisations in Bangladesh have been standing up for education for all girls and boys by collecting signatures for the #UpForSchool Petition – which calls on world leaders to get every child into school.

Find out how World Vision Bangladesh collected 1.5 million names and how BRAC got 1.2 million people to sign up.

And if you haven’t signed #UpForSchool yet, join the eight million who are sending out a message and demanding education for all. Sign the petition now.

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