Authorities arrested a man in China after hospital staff realized their pregnant patient, his “20-year-old wife,” was actually only 12-years-old.
The 40-year-old accompanied the girl and a woman he called his mother to the Xuzhou City Central Hospital in East China’s Jiangsu Province, the Mirror reports.
He wanted the girl to undergo a routine test to confirm the fetus was healthy, but staff grew suspicious.
“It’s obvious she is just a child, and certainly not anywhere near 20 years old,” one of the staff members said, adding the child was unable to answer them as she did not speak Mandarin.
The hospital’s suspicion initially angered the man.
“I took her here to be examined — just do your job,” he reportedly said in response to to their queries. “Stop asking so many questions.”
Police officers later concluded the child — lacking a Chinese ID — was likely from Southeast Asia, and was abducted or brought in as a foreign bride.
Yet while the incident occurred in China, it looks like child brides may also be an American problem as well, The New York Times reports.
Parents from a wide variety of religious groups ranging from Christian to Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and more have allowed their kids to marry adults.
Records indicate between 1995 and 2012, 3,481 children were married in New Jersey, with most given parental consent.
While many of the children were 16 or 17 years old, some were as young as 13 — and yet still given consent by a judge.
“The solution is relatively simple,” writes Fraidy Ress, founder of non-profit Unchained At Last, in The New York Times op-ed. “State legislators should eliminate the archaic legal exceptions that allow children to wed. This is the only way to end child and forced marriage in the United States.”
“Based on my own experience working with forced-marriage victims across the United States, I am sure many of these children had to marry against their will,” she added. “Forced marriage is a widespread but often ignored problem in the United States.”