Baby Anderson sleeps peacefully in the middle of the room while his 14-year-old mother makes dinner. (Linda Forsell) At age 13, Michelle was raped twice, resulting in the birth of her first child. At age 15, she became pregnant with her second child after her mother sold her to an older man in exchange for a bed. (Linda Forsell)
Photographer Linda Forsell had already been documenting stories about sexual violence against women for a year when she found out about a man who had fathered five of his own grandchildren as a result of sexually abusing several generations of women in his family. The youngest of his victims was 3 years old when he died.
Last week, In Sight announced the winners of the Visura 2015 Grant for Outstanding Personal Project, and Forsell’s series “Children Having Children” earned her the Top Finalist honor in the competition. “Children” dives into an epidemic of young girls in Guatemala giving birth at an alarming rate as a result of rape.
In 2013, 4,354 Guatemalan girls between the ages of 10 and 14 gave birth as a result of rape, according to UNICEF. In a country with only 15 million inhabitants, this makes for one of the highest rates in Latin America of children giving birth as the result of rape. Eighty-nine percent of the men who assaulted girls younger than 14 were relatives or otherwise close to the girls; 25 percent were the victims’ fathers.
Forsell’s heartbreaking series touches on the broader problems of gender-based violence and inequality in Guatemala and around the world.
Jamie, 22, worries because his days-old son will not eat. The mother, Alicia, is 11 years old. (Linda Forsell) Amelia is being transferred to the maternity ward after her C-section. Complications like hemorrhaging, eclampsia and cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD) are much more common when the mother is not fully developed. (Linda Forsell) Gloria, 13, became pregnant by a 22-year-old man whom she does not see often. (Linda Forsell) Lilian was 9 when she was raped by her mother’s uncle. Two years later, she became pregnant with her son, Luis David. (Linda Forsell) Lilian, 13, plays with her son, Luis, her younger brother and her baby cousin. (Linda Forsell) Heidi holds her son, Marcos, while twirling a jump rope. She divides her time among her son, church and soap operas. (Linda Forsell) Andrea is pregnant by her 20-year-old husband. She’s just returned home to her family after being abused by her husband when she moved in with him. (Linda Forsell) Jennifer hold her son Anderson while doing chores. Her son’s father has threatened her family if they report him for rape. (Linda Forsell) A baby is left alone on a bed. (Linda Forsell) A light shines on a road where a young girl was raped repeatedly by her father. (Linda Forsell) Erica, 14, is pregnant by her 18-year-old boyfriend. When asked how having a baby will change her life, she says, “Not at all.” (Linda Forsell)
More In Sight:
Undocumented in D.C: Looking at the identity and culture of Washington’s immigrant youth
Kingdom of girls: Women hold power in this remote Indian village
In this corner: Bolivia’s strong-armed fighting ‘cholitas’