In March, 2019. I started to pay much attention to these little young girls who were taken themselves as group pictures under drizzle and lots of fog, during walking trip from Ta Van village to Sapa town (located in Northern Vietnam). These girls made up brightly, dressed their traditional custom and the long hair was smoothed.
I spent time spent time observing them and seeing a another girl hugging the baby and sitting on the street sides with unhappy face. I wondered who they were and why they had different, opposite emotions and realized they all had children at the age perhaps they should be enrolled in school.
I came back home and researched more, the media at that time definite which happened with these young girls by the serious words such as: ‘Child Marriage’, ‘ Early Marriage’, ‘ Child Brides’… a lots of information with many different perspectives.
In the early 2020, I quitted full-time job, booked a flight ticket to the North where ‘Child Marriage” is the most percentage in Vietnam and started “Too young to be a Mom” project.
The starting point of “Too young to be a Mom” was looking an answer for my very personal question: “How is the interior life of these little girls who are under Child Marriage situation?”. I desired to enter their private life and learn to understand more about their psychological complicated movements. I took 4 months to meet up and observe young girls included who are in marriage, who are being in school and even who have been a Mom already. It was really a huge challenge for me to sustain this project independently, especially when I had no experiences about the new places, accessed with new cultures and how to change myself to be accepted in their private life.
According to UNICEF, 18% children who are under Child Marriage in Vietnam. The most percentage belongs to Northern Vietnam.
According to Vietnamese law, men are at least 20 years old and women are at least 18 years old before marrying. Both spouses must also be given free consent.
Child Marriage in Vietnam is divided into 4 types:
Family arranged marriage: Child marriage is seen as tradition. It is often linked to early labor. Poor families marry their children to bring them into the workforce. A ‘bride price’ may be paid by the groom’s family to compensate the bride’s family for the loss of labor.
Love marriage: Young couples dropout of school to get married or move in together without registration to avoid fines.
Marriage to “resolve pregnancy”: Early marriage leads to child marriage to address the same associated with premarital sex.
Bride abduction / trafficking: Kidnapping of girls without consent. Trafficking of girls to China to sell them into marriage.
“Child Marriage’ doesn’t simply stop at young girls getting married soon, that issues is about discrimination, gender inequality, harassment, sexual abuse, human rights and even political issue. I want to include all problems above into a word of declaration: “Social Justice”. I am also a girl, a sister, a woman who is witnessing that problem happening in our country without being paid much attention to. So, I’m here to call for people’s gaze directly to our problems in society now.
Things that remain normally chronicles daily activities in some of each narrow houses in Saigon urbanization. In Saigon, there are many buildings which were built since 1975. Over 50 years, the narrow living is continuing every day. All buildings here are divided into 4 groups, predicated on the capacity of bearing structure. From A to D level.
Things that remain focuses on describing daily life inside houses of level D, which is considering for clearance in a few days. During 4 months, I have met many people including family, coupes, individuals; entered their private life and gathered intimate conversations accompanying with happiness, sorrow and even sorrow from local people who couldn’t certainly determine how their future would be happening. The smallest house I came in, the more deeply stories I was heard. Some images here just a small part from many photos were taken during the time I stayed in Saigon.
Love, Joy, Happiness, Sorrow still remain here.