Child Betrothals Returning in China

United Press International

In an alarming return to an outlawed ancient custom, large numbers of children in rural areas of East China are being betrothed as early as ages 7 or 8 for marriages arranged by their parents, an official newspaper said Monday.

The overseas edition of the People’s Daily, the Communist Party newspaper, said arranged child marriages have come back into vogue in the “Golden Delta” area, including the cities of Shanghai, Nanjing and Hangzhou along the country’s east coast.

In one city in the region, the newspaper said, 86% of the youngsters under 14 are engaged.

The legal marriage age in China is 20 for women and 22 for men, but the government encourages people to marry late as part of its birth control policy. Many wait until they are 27 or 28.