Child marriage is shockingly common in many countries across the world. In an effort to raise awareness about the prevalence of this issue, Youtuber Coby Persin headed to Times Square for a social experiment to see how New Yorkers would react to seeing a child bride.
The video features a 65-year-old man and his 12-year-old child "bride" in a wedding gown posing around Times Square for a mock wedding photo shoot. Many passersby crowd around the couple, staring with their mouths agape. Some stopped to ask the girl questions, such as where her mom is and how old she is, and upon realizing that she's a child bride, become viscerally angry.
"This is bullshit," one man says over the "groom's" protests that he has the girl's parents' permission. "This is not right." Some physically pull the girl away from him.
Persin told A Plus that he was compelled to make a video addressing child marriage after finding out how many children get married off each day. "I couldn't imagine my 12-year-old sister getting married to a 65-year-old man," Persin said.
The video may have been staged, but it highlights a point about child marriage that many may not know. Though one would think that "stuff like that" does not happen here in the U.S., child marriage is sadly not uncommon here (as well as in other developed countries, it should be noted).
In most states, the minimum age to marry is 18, but exceptions, most commonly through parental consent or judicial approval, allow children under 18 to wed. Thousands of American children as young as age 10 have been legally married in the U.S., and most to adults "with age differences that could have triggered statutory-rape charges, not a marriage license," wrote Fraidy Reiss in The New York Times.
In developing countries, child marriage is a staggeringly common practice, with girls in poor households being particularly susceptible to becoming a bride before age 18. Each year, some 15 million girls — some even as young as 8 or 9 — are married off to much older men to join the estimated 700 million women alive today who were wedded before their 18th birthday.