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Marriage Database to Weed Out Bigamists
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China will post citizens' marital status details online to prevent people from practicing bigamy, sources with the Civil Affairs Ministry announced yesterday.

A nationwide network of online databases will be completed by 2010, and document when, where, and whom a person married, said a document issued by the ministry.

In 2005, the ministry instructed provincial marriage registration offices to begin collecting citizen's marriage registration information and inputting it into a computerized database.

Chinese couples used to need an "introductory letter" from their employers to the local marriage registration office but this formality was dropped in 2003.

The simplification of marriage procedures led to an increase in bigamies with the number of couples providing false registration information on the up.

Traditionally most Chinese have nonreligious wedding ceremonies, so couples usually go to the registration office to collect their certificate and then celebrate the wedding at home or in a hotel with their families and friends.

The ministry announced it will promote a new type of marriage ceremony presided over by an official who will ask the couple to express their vows in public. The ceremony, free of charge, is an attempt to infuse wedding procedures with renewed solemnity.

The ministry said the new database and the new wedding ceremony will raise awareness of the importance of marriage and inspire a sense of family responsibility.

The ministry has urged provinces in east and central China to get the new system up and running locally before the end of 2008.

(Xinhua News Agency April 25, 2007)

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