China's teen brides

Photojournalist: “Every girl I saw in these villages got married before they were 18”

A series of images taken by photographer Muyi Xiao in rural China feature young newlyweds, including some brides as young as 13. “Every girl I saw in these villages got married before they were 18 and some of them were extremely young,” said Xiao. The marriages did not appear to be the result of parental pressure, or a result of unexpected pregnancy, Xiao added. “I didn’t see any forced marriage,” she said. “The kids are happy, they say they fell in love.”

The legal age for marriage in China is 22 for men and 20 for women, but according to Jiang Quanbao, a professor from Xi’an Jiaotong University, there are no penalties for breaching the law. In rural areas, he said, child marriages are recognized even if official registration takes place later. Jiang believes part of the problem is a shortfall of eligible brides — there are approximately 33.6 million more men than women in China, and he says many rural parents encourage their young sons to secure a wife before they leave home and begin careers in factory towns. Regardless of the factors that may be driving their marriages, the couples in Xiao’s photos appear very much in love.

Read the full story at CNN.

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