Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

Categories: Asia | Nations | Photo project | Society

13-year-old Jie married 18-year-old Wen three days after they met, got pregnant and dropped out of school. Photographer Mu Ji Xiao captured the stories of teenage marriages in rural areas in southern China, gaining popularity after the abolition of the "one family, one child" policy. The officially allowed age of marriage for Chinese women is 20 years, for Chinese - 22 years, but families ignore these rules and register marriage earlier. As a result, a whole generation of abandoned children is now growing up in China, who remain under the care of grandparents, while their parents go to the cities in search of work.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

Over the years of the "one family, one child" policy, the male part of the Chinese population has become larger than the female, and now young people are trying to get married as early as possible, because the further away, the more difficult it will be to find a suitable bride. Newlyweds often depend heavily on their parents and live at their expense. The social life of young Chinese wives is very limited, and they mostly spend time at home doing housework and children.

Girls also tend to get married early, fearing that otherwise they will be waiting for a marriage arranged by their parents in the future.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

Tsai, 16, and Ming, 17, dated for three months before their wedding in 2013. Now they live with Min's parents, who financially support them. His mom has taken over most of the baby's care and even gives him a breast to calm him down.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

16-year-old Xiao Cai keeps her two-month-old son at home in the village of Guangdong in Mengla County in Yunnan Province. Xiao Cai has been married for a year. She dropped out of school in the fifth grade because she couldn't afford to continue studying.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

13-year-old Xiao Jie married her 18-year-old husband three days after they met. Now they live in the house of his parents, who work more than one and a half thousand kilometers away to earn money and help the young family. In the photo, Jie looks out of the bedroom of a relative in Wang He village, Yunnan Province.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

Sociologists say that teenage marriages in rural areas of China are a long-standing tradition, but now it is gaining popularity again due to the abolition of the "one family, one child" policy. In the photo is a wedding shot of Jie.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

Xiao Ming, 17, holds a breast pump while his mother and 16-year-old wife hold their son.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

13-year-old Jie didn't want to get pregnant so early, but she didn't know anything about contraception.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

Jie and her 16-year-old sister-in-law, who is also pregnant, are sitting at a table where Jie's husband is having a drink with his relatives.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

The mother-in-law of 16-year-old Xiao Cai is breastfeeding her grandson to calm him down. Most of the time it is the grandmother who takes care of the child.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

7-year-old Xiao Yuan looks at the village of Yangxi in Yunnan province from the balcony of a neighbor's house. Her mother gave birth to her at the age of 17. Yuan does not go to school yet, despite the fact that in China children are sent to school at 6 years old.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

18-year-old Wen touches the stomach of his pregnant 13-year-old wife Jie, who complains that married life turned out to be boring.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

Expectant teenage mother Mei holds a pair of small shoes for the baby, and her husband Jian is lying on the bed.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

The father-to-be snuggles up to the belly of his pregnant wife.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

Cartoon stickers that Xiao Jie used to decorate the wall of her house. On the left is an incorrectly written hieroglyph.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

Four-year-old Xiao Le during a video call with his 20-year-old parents who work in Zhejiang Province as guest workers.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

It is difficult for the boy to sit still while he is talking to his parents. They left for work when the child was only two years old.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

A young mother is rocking her baby. Girls tend to get married as early as possible in order to avoid a marriage of convenience arranged by their parents in the future.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

Tsai and her husband Ming use a neighbor's hand mill to grind corn. Min says she misses the bachelor life and friends.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

16-year-old Xiao Rong with her husband Xiao Yun and 10-month-old baby. Mengla County, Yunnan Province.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

Despite the obvious difficulties of such an early marriage and childbearing, teenage mothers find the opportunity to enjoy life with their children.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

13-year-old Jie (in yellow) lives in the house of Wen's parents at the top of the mountain in the village of Tansybian.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

16-year-old Xiao Xin watches cartoons with her one-year-old daughter in Guangdong Village. She started dating her future husband when they were both in fifth grade. The couple dropped out of school after getting married in 2013.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

16-year-old Xiao Mei with her two-year-old daughter and one-year-old son in Wanhe Village, Mengla County, Yunnan Province. She has been married for two years since the couple met in elementary school.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

Xiao Cai is fooling around with her husband, 17-year-old Xiao Ming. Both live in the house of his parents, who support a young family.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

In a note enclosed in a physics workbook, it says: "Hi, do you have a boyfriend? Can you date me? I like you, please accept my offer. Answer me."

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

Xiao Jie cooks dinner in the wooden kitchen in the house of his father-in-law and mother-in-law, where they all live together.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

Fan's 18-year-old father watches his 16-year-old wife Li breastfeed a baby in the bedroom of their house.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

Xiao Cai carries his two-month-old son behind his back while walking through the forest in Guangdong Village.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

Xiao Li is looking at a T-shirt, and her 19-year-old husband Xiao Min is playing games on a mobile phone next to his younger brother.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

18-year-old Xiao Yin combs her hair while her 17-year-old husband Xiao Qing prepares to go out. The couple has a one-year-old son.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

Min lay down to sleep with a baby and a two-year-old daughter.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

16-year-old May is nine months pregnant. Lack of education makes girls think that dropping out of school is the right thing to do.

Chinese teen marriages: how 13-year-old girls try to get married early

Xiao Jie's future mother cooks dinner in the courtyard of her husband's parents' house.

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