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2020-05-21 10:49:01

China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs issued a new guideline Wednesday aimed at curbing antiquated and vulgar marriage customs including sky-high bride prices and depraved hazing rituals.

In some countries, a woman’s family is expected to present a dowry to her betrothed in the form of money, goods, or property. However, it’s just the opposite in China, where men outnumber women: The man must often prove his worth by supplying a home, a car, and a cash gift of tens, even hundreds of thousands of yuan.

These “bride prices” are so common, in fact, that a city government in the northern Hebei province once lavished praise on a woman who declined to charge her fiancé a bride price. Unfortunately, the blurred line between high bride prices and human trafficking has prompted some Chinese cities to set caps on how much a groom should have to fork over to tie the knot.

In parts of China, it’s still common for groomsmen to haze the wedding party. The groom might be tied to a tree or subjected to a barrage of slaps, while the bride and her bridesmaids might be forced to consume alcohol, targeted with lewd jokes, thrown in swimming pools, or worse. These customs have been widely criticized in recent years as excuses for obscenity, and an official from the Ministry of Civil Affairs had previously urged local governments to stamp out such practices in 2018.

Wednesday’s guideline said certain pilot areas — which were not identified by name — would be encouraged to police the undesirable wedding customs, thereby “creating a better social climate.” (Image: Sixth Tone)