Remember Chris Johns’ claim that photographer Stephanie Sinclair has “no agenda” when she shoots her stories? It was part of an Editor’s Note in which Chris insisted that in “a world of shrill voices and agendas, we at National Geographic are committed to an unbiased presentation of facts. … It’s what we’ve been doing for more than 120 years.”
In 24 installments of this ongoing series, we’ve documented why Chris is wrong.
“I strongly believe there is not just a need for awareness-raising and prevention work, but we must find ways to help these girls who are already in these marriages — be it through giving financial incentives to their families to let them stay in school, or vocational training so they can have more say in their lives and households. Quality medical treatment is also needed for girls who are giving birth at these young ages. These girls need long-term solutions. There is no quick fix.
I am a firm believer in Desmond Tutu’s words, “I am because we are.”
Sounds like Stephanie has a well-defined agenda — and God bless her for that.
Even National Geographic magazine has an obvious agenda on this issue. In the Letters section of the October 2011 issue, there’s a list of groups that “work to delay girls’ marriages and improve their lives”:
√ The practice of little girls marrying grown men? Our Society is against it.
√ Communism? For decades, our Society was against it.
√ The rise of fascism in Europe in the 1940s? Our Society was (eventually) against it.
But what about now, Chris Johns? Is our Society for or against the rise of theocratic and autocratic regimes? Why do you remain silent when a Nobel Peace Prize laureate in China is put under house arrest — or when you visit the Middle East? When confronted by anti-democratic bullies, why do you suddenly start “inspiring people to care about the planet”?
≡ photo of Stephanie Sinclair via the University of Florida