The Internet is rife with disturbing images. One such image is this collage of photos posted by a man named Omran Alali on Facebook. The photos allegedly show a Jordanian man and his 11-year-old pregnant wife.

Not much is known as of now about the details of these photos. However, they certainly earned the ire of many netizens who left angered comments on the post.

The collage shows the young girl holding a printout of a pregnancy ultrasound scan, which we can only assume is hers; some feature her and a man, presumably her husband; and several more that show her growing belly.

A quick look at the photos can cause a parent to be outraged that child marriages and preteen pregnancies occur – but these are realities for many cultures around the world.

UNICEF defines child marriage as a “formal marriage or informal union before age 18. It is a reality for both boys and girls, although girls are disproportionately the most affected. Child marriage is widespread and can lead to a lifetime of disadvantage and deprivation.”

The statistics of child marriage all over the world are alarming. A 2014 report says that “700 million women alive today were married as children. More than 1 in 3 – or some 250 million – were married before 15.”

Almost half of all child brides worldwide live in South Asia; 1 in 3 are in India.

Each year, 70,000 girls aged 15-19 die each year due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth.

Though efforts are ongoing all over the world to end the global epidemic that is child marriage, the fact that it still occurs and that it is accepted by many cultures is reason enough for countries to work together to vigilantly protect these little girls’ dignity and safeguard their right to a childhood.

“Ending child marriage will help break the intergenerational cycle of poverty by allowing girls and women to participate more fully in society,” says UNICEF. “Empowered and educated girls are better able to nourish and care for their children, leading to healthier, smaller families. When girls are allowed to be girls, everybody wins.”

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