After featuring Pakistan's first transgender model Kami, fashion designer Waqar J. Khan is now highlighting child marriages in Pakistan.

His latest campaign shows three girls, each dressed as a child bride, and in the same frame he opposes the idea by showing them in sports gear ready to take on the world.

"The purpose of the shoot is to show child marriages which [primarily] takes place in areas like Orangi and I want to connect the campaign with the right people to highlight what's happening in these localities," Waqar tells Images. "This fashion shoot is to build awareness and promote women in the sports field."

8-year-old  Areeba enjoys playing cricket and is currently studying in Grade 4. Photo: Waqar j/ Khan/Instagram
8-year-old Areeba enjoys playing cricket and is currently studying in Grade 4. Photo: Waqar j/ Khan/Instagram

For the photoshoot, the girls are shown miserable and submissive as child brides, but contrasted with the images on the right, they are powerful and confident as sports players and have courage to face the world, adds the stylist. The campaign seeks to highlight how early marriage can ruin the future of a girl.

He explains that families from these poverty-stricken areas wish to get rid of their girls as early as possible and so get them married at the first opportunity. However, parents of these girls let them continue training after seeing them perform. For example, 12-year-old boxer Suman, studying in Grade 8, is the first girl from her family to participate in outdoor activities. The other two girls featured are: footballer Esha who is 10 years old and studies in Grade 5; and cricketer Areeba who is 8 years old, studying in Grade 4.

12-year-old boxer Suman, studying in Grade 8, is the first girl from her family to participate in outdoor activities. Photo: Waqar J. Khan/ Instagram
12-year-old boxer Suman, studying in Grade 8, is the first girl from her family to participate in outdoor activities. Photo: Waqar J. Khan/ Instagram

The idea came to him when he went to Orangi town with his team and came across Karachi United Orangi Town Centre run by Coach Zakir. "The sports complex teaches boys various sports, but surprisingly, there were also women and little girls learning football and kickboxing," said the designer.

Initially, the coach faced difficulties in approaching the girls due to their gender (family issues) and caste differences, but after training under Zakir's mentorship they set aside all biases.

Esha is 10 years of age and studying in Grade 5. Photo: Waqar J. Khan/ Instagram
Esha is 10 years of age and studying in Grade 5. Photo: Waqar J. Khan/ Instagram

"This is not just a sports complex but also a place which helps builds tolerance between casts systems," said the coach. "These girls come from various backgrounds; Balochi, Pathan, Urdu speaking, Sindhi and others, but here they've built tolerance for one another."

Waqar added, "We have to look at the cause and get to the root of it. We can't do much about this but we can talk about it and address it. In the long run I'd like to help these girls."

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