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12-year-old's church 'wedding' to highlight plight of child brides

posted 11 Oct 2014, 14:21 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 11 Oct 2014, 14:22 ]

The church "marriage" of a 12-year old Norwegian girl named Thea to a 37-year-old man is staged by children's development organisation Plan International to highlight the issue of child brides around the world.

OSLO, NORWAY (OCTOBER 11, 2014) (REUTERS) -  The church "marriage" of a 12-year old Norwegian girl named Thea to a 37-year-old man was staged on Saturday (October 11) by children's development organisation Plan International to highlight the issue of child brides around the world.

The campaign has received widespread attention in Norway and around the world, with some believing that the wedding plans were real and that the 12-year-old was to be married in Oslo.

Having entered the church and gone to the altar with her husband-to-be, the staged ceremony was interrupted by "protesters" - a group of actors and volunteers, intervening on Thea's behalf and chanting "stop the wedding!" and so the nuptials never took place.

In the period leading up to the mock wedding, blonde-haired, green-eyed pre-teen Thea blogged about her feelings about her upcoming union, from her make-up and hair for the big day to having to abandon her dreams of becoming a veterinarian as she will have to leave school as soon as she is married.

Peppered with "selfies" and images from her daily life, Thea's blog covered a wide range of subjects, from her love of horses and boy band One Direction to her thoughts about having sex with her "husband" and becoming pregnant at a young age.

Thea will now go back to being a normal Norwegian 12-year-old, but organisers Plan International say that thousands of others around the world won't be so lucky.

"Today we have just stopped one out of 39,000 underage marriages that takes place every single day," Plan Norway General Secretary Olaf Thommesen told reporters following the "wedding."

According to Plan International, 14 million young girls are married globally every year before they reach the age of 18 - an average of 39,000 per day. The organisation says that child brides are subjected to physical and emotional violence and often become pregnant at a young age, leading to physical and mental health problems.

"I think it's important because I want to show more people how bad the underage marriage situation really is," the 12-year-old said about her participation in the campaign. "There are like 39000 underage girls getting forced into married every day, and I want to help spread the word about how awful underage marriage is."

The campaign by Plan Norway spread through social media, with some observers believing that the wedding plans were real.

In reality, Thea would never have been able to legally marry in Norway at the age of 12 - like most European countries, the legal age for marriage there is 18, or 16 with the permission of parents and the county governor.


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