Small women inside the grown up girl
Young married couples, women, still kids, having kids themselves, playing the grown up game. Not being able to slowly experience but pushed into a role they aren’t mature enough to cope with yet.
Child marriage is something pretty common in rural India, especially in Rajasthan. More than 50 % are forced into marriage before they turn 18 and in Rajasthan 15 % of all wives are not even 10 years old when they are married.
Since hardly any change is seen concerning child marriages, it is still a very significant problem causing more problems, turning into a never ending circle of violence and affliction going through so many generations.
In the small village of Delwara in Rajasthan I got to know Manika, 12 years old. It was on her wedding day with Ambalal, 16 years. From then on I started to photograph her, following her into her routined life as a woman during the period of one year.
Child marriages is always a reaction to extreme poverty. In India more than 300 million people have less then 16 cent per day to spend. Also Manika's family lives beyond poverty line and has hardly enough to survive. Her and her husband's familiy are coming from tribal poor background living on exhausting field work they do for other people. So Manika is kept constantly busy in the house or field. She also has to work on a road construction site, earning money she never gets to see, but her in-laws will spend.
Since Indian women are seen as a burden and second class citizens, Manika is a welcome worker but unwelcome eater. Like Manika many girls in India become victims of exploitation.
Fathers and grandfathers serve as the examples for men, two out of three women even suffer from domestic violence. Through imitating, most men show as little respect for their wives as their fathers do for their mothers. Also Ambalal demands his “rights” and abuses or beats Manika whenever he feels like.
The young brides are under pressure to prove their fertility as soon as possible. But the risk for girls between the ages of 10 and 14 not to survive pregnancy is five times higher than for adult women.