Last month, two 13-year-old Chinese children married one another.
The small ceremony took place in Ding’an County, Hainan Province in Southern China.
Footage has since emerged of the wedding on YouKu, a Chinese streaming service.
The nuptials were reportedly arranged by the couple’s parents.
In the short clip, the newlyweds can be seen wearing red costumes and bowing to one another as is typical of a traditional Chinese wedding, surrounded by their friends and family.
The bride was reportedly five months pregnant at the time.
Whilst their actual ages remain unconfirmed, with the majority of reports claiming that the pair are both 13 years old.
Either way, the wedding will not be recognised officially by the state as the legal age for women to marry in China is 20 and for men it is 22.
However, according to Jiang Quanbao, a professor from Xi’an Jiaotong University, there is no specific penalty for breaching the law in the country.
Despite having one of the oldest age restrictions on marriage (in the UK the legal age is 16 whereas in Iran you can legally marry aged nine with judicial consent), numerous incidents of child marriage in China are reported.
Just last year, 18-year-old Wen married 13-year-old Jie in a rural village in Mengla county.
The two wed just three days after meeting during the Lunar New Year in 2014, CNN reports, with Jie falling pregnant shortly after.
Fifteen million girls are married as children every year, reports UNICEF, with one in three girls in the developing world said to be married before the age of 18.
“Child marriage exemplifies how the world’s poorest girls bear the heaviest burden of disadvantage,” explains Angélique Kidjo, award-winning artist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
“Especially those living in marginalised communities in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where the practice is most common,” she wrote in UNICEF’s annual “state of the world’s children” study.
Early marriage and pregnancy can significantly inhibit a child’s emotional and physical development, not to mention the psychological consequences. The problem is particularly prevalent for girls; many marriage laws around the globe allow women to marry younger than men and this is often the case when it comes to child marriage.
“Child brides are at greater risk of experiencing dangerous complications in pregnancy and childbirth, contracting HIV/AIDS and suffering domestic violence,” explains Girls Not Brides, a global partnership committed to ending child marriage.
“With little access to education and economic opportunities, they and their families are more likely to live in poverty,” they report.
and China Expat