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Proposal for Marriage at 18
Source:Chinese Women's Research Network | Release Date:2012-3-14-
Title: Proposal for Marriage at 18
Source: Xinhua
Release Date: March 13, 2012
Keyword: marriage age, proposal, research

Should the legal marriageable age in China be lowered to 18?

Huang Xihua, a deputy to the National People's Congress, told the ongoing legislative session that it should, to provide more options for young people.

Huang cited a Chinese saying: "Male greatly when marries, female greatly when marries."

Cheng Fangzhou, a Jinan University student working on a research on the topic, said she found the present legal age in China (20 for females, 22 for males) too high compared to other countries.

The age is 15 in France, 14 in Russia, 12 in the Netherlands and just 9 in Iran. China has the highest legal marriageable age in the world, she said.

Many other university students across the country have sided with Huang and Cheng, conducting their own surveys and researching the possible consequences of lowering the age of marriage in China.

Bai Ling, a student at Sichuan International Studies University, said his research indicated that while the limit had little effect on urban youth at institutions of higher learning, who typically reach legal marriageable age by the time they graduate, the limit might be too high for rural people who enter the workforce after finishing middle school.

Gu Jun, a Shanghai University professor, said the proposal mainly targeted rural residents who started work at a younger age than those in the city.

Lowering the limit could better meet the needs of migrant workers, Gu said.

"Some of the concerns, such as being able to pay housing debts and shouldering the burden of a family at the age of 18, are reasonable," Gu said. "However, if people do not possess the ability to take on these responsibilities, they can simply choose to marry later."

Qin Jie, a 24-year-old employee at a Beijing law firm, said people old enough to support a family had the right to decide when to get married.

"Some people might break the law to change their ages or just live together to bear a child," Qin said. "It will probably create more trouble than just lowering the legal limit."

However, a survey on indicated little preference either way. Of 26,674 respondents, 44.2 percent were against the proposal, while 42.1 percent supported it.

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