The UNICEF Photo Of The Year depicts an 11 year-old girl sitting quietly next to a 40 year old bearded man who is her fiance. We gaze at the picture for a moment, sigh, and then go on with our lives oblivious as to its meaning for each individual. The man will shortly be raping this girl after what purports to be a wedding ceremony because he is carrying out his cultural mores and values. The girl will be impregnated without love and he will never regard his actions as violent or disrespectful. The parents of the girl sold her because they “needed the money” and after all, “our men don’t need educated women,” they simply need girls who can bear children, hopefully, males.
Leon de Winter, a Dutch writer expressed the feelings many share. “I believe there are regressive cultures. In an era of political correctness, this is a tricky statement. But, there is no other statement that can be made about this image. We behold a regressive man who is taking what he has purchased.”