A video of two teens marrying each other in rural China has been making rounds on social media, attracting criticism from many netizens.
The wedding, which involved a 16-year-old boy and his pregnant girlfriend of the same age, reportedly took place in Ding’an County, Hainan Province, last month.
Chinese outlets initially reported that both parties were 13 years old at the time of their marriage, but they were actually 16, while the girl was five months pregnant.
Footage of the wedding has now gone viral on social media, with many netizens expressing concern over the fact that they are, basically, still children.
One commented on Weibo (via Daily Mail), “They are still children. How could they shoulder their responsibilities in the future?”
Another was worried that the couple might regret their fate later in their lives when they know better.
According to Beijing News, the ceremony was set by their parents and attended by their families, who were apparently happy for the young couple.
The wedding, however, is not officially recognized under Chinese law, which sets the legal ages that are acceptable for marriage at 22 for men and 20 for women.
Still, child marriage is reportedly commonplace in rural China. Left-behind children, or those whose parents leave to work in the cities, often become participants of the outdated custom. They are usually left to live with their grandparents and deprived of proper sex education, Xinhua noted.
It is unclear if this persistent custom of child marriage in China is explicitly linked to the one-child policy, which resulted to a large gender imbalance as families preferred having sons than daughters.
Nonetheless, netizens reacting to the Hainan newlyweds likewise worried that people in rural villages were still living in a feudalistic era, where families prioritize marrying off their children to ensure continuity of their blood lines.