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Stark photographs tell heartbreaking tale of Indian child bride

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 28th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Married at 11, a mother at 14, your hopes for the future for your family is dashed as your young husband descends into alcoholism upon the failure of his family's business. This is all just stark reality throughout India, as girls are married off by desperate families. Photographer Danish Siddiqui with Reuters fearlessly documented this process for the world to see, and the results are heartbreaking. 

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The 14-year-old mother, known only as Krishna is frequently shown tending to her newborn baby while trying to cope with her husband's alcoholism. In the northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan, in a country where 40 percent of the world's child marriages are held, it's Krishna's daily existence.

The photographic essay, three years in the making has provided an inside look into the lives of Krishna and her young husband Gopal Kishan. The project began with their marriage in May of 2010, when Gopal was 13 and she was 11 years old.

In the years since, photographer Siddiqui has dutifully followed their changing lives together, from the birth of their baby at Krishna's tender age of 14, to Gopal Kishan's loss of work in his family's soybean fields.

The failure of Gopal's family business encouraged the young father to start drinking. This development is all too readily recorded by the photos, especially by Krishna who emotionally displayed her pain before the lens.

In one photograph, Krishna is seen crumpled on the ground crying, worried her husband would try and hold their child while drunk one day and accidentally drop him instead.

Gopal is also seen pulling bottles and cans up to his bent thin frame. In another photo, he rests smoking lazily around friends.

Gopal has told Krishna that he thinks he should leave her in the village for work in the city. Nearly dying in childbirth with her son Alok, she is seen carrying the four-month-old in swaddling clothes.

"As I left the small village, the only thing which bothered me was the future of four-month old Alok," Siddiqui wrote after his latest pictures were taken of the couple.

"Would he go down the same route his parents took or would he bend societal norms to carve a separate path for himself and his future partner?"

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