Image 1 of 1
IMG_5188.jpg
Xhunaxhi Rosalía Santiago López (C) portrayed with her partner Rolando Luis López (L) and her mother Antonia López Guerra (R) at their home in Santa María Xadani, Oaxaca, Mexico on February 18, 2016. Xhunaxhi – her name means “virgin” in Zapotec – is 14 and lives with her 18-year-old partner and her mother, who had her own first child aged 17, in the town of Santa María Xadani in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. Xhunaxhi, who speaks little Spanish, is painfully shy and childlike and punctuates her comments with giggles. She is five months pregnant, but seems not to really understand – she has to ask her mother when her baby is due. She left school at 10 to travel with her family to Tepic, in the western state of Nayarit, for six-month stints working cutting sugar cane. She met her boyfriend last year, keeping the relationship secret from her mother, and was “stolen”, according to the Zapotec tradition. She plans to marry legally at 18. While Mexico has outlawed marriage under the age of 18, many young girls become unofficial wives and mothers much earlier. In Juchitán, teenage pregnancy is expected, even prized. Mexico ranks first in teenage pregnancies among the member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Photo by Bénédicte Desrus