Don’t make mar­riage a play­ground for un­bri­dled haz­ing

Global Times - Weekend - - OPINION - By Yan Yun­ming The au­thor is a re­porter with the Global Times. yanyun­[email protected]­al­ cn

The wed­ding day is sup­posed to en­cap­su­late one of the best mo­ments of one’s life, but for a hap­less bride­groom in south­ern China, his big day was re­duced to a tragic farce due to haz­ing, a tra­di­tional Chi­nese rit­ual that has be­come con­tro­ver­sial and needs to be con­trolled.

Ai is su­ing his wed­ding guests over the pranks that made him spend 15 days in hospi­tal and face a huge in­sur­ance bill from a car ac­ci­dent.

While Ai was go­ing to pick up the bride on the day of mar­riage in Novem­ber, his friends tied him up to a tele­graph pole and cov­ered him in eggs, beer and ink.

Try­ing to flee, Ai ran down the mo­tor­way with his vi­sion partly blocked by the ink and was knocked down by a BMW car. He was hos­pi­tal­ized with skull frac­ture and mul­ti­ple in­juries to the body. The car was se­verely dam­aged as the driver crashed into a guardrail while try­ing to avoid him.

The traf­fic po­lice ruled that Ai was at fault and will have to pay for dam­ages to the car. The groom de­cided to take le­gal ac­tion against the wed­ding guests in late De­cem­ber to cover the car’s re­pair bill of 30,000 yuan ($4370).

Legends about the tra­di­tion of wed­ding haz­ing abound. Some say that the rite dates back to a time when ar­ranged mar­riages were com­mon­place, and the prac­tice served as a way to re­lieve anx­i­ety, ex­pel “evil spir­its” and in­tro­duce the new­ly­weds.

An­other ver­sion says that the cus­tom first ap­peared in north­ern China where peo­ple de­pended on hunt­ing and graz­ing for liveli­hood and only men who could with­stand the rig­ors of haz­ing were qual­i­fied to be hus­bands.

As a cus­tom orig­i­nally meant to foil the con­vivial at­mos­phere for fun, in re­cent years wed­ding haz­ing has be­come vul­gar and in­sane, and spi­raled out of con­trol.

Just like Ai, a num­ber of grooms were in­jured after en­dur­ing wed­ding day pranks. Worse still, brides and their maids are also the tar­gets.

It was re­ported that a bride in Shan­dong Prov­ince was so badly teased and ridiculed by wed­ding guests that she com­mit­ted sui­cide a few days into the mar­riage. In 2013, a 16-year-old brides­maid was sex­u­ally ha­rassed by more than a dozen guests in the name of haz­ing. The per­pe­tra­tors were sen­tenced to one to three years in jail. These are of course ex­treme cases, but this evil prac­tice in the guise of Chi­nese tra­di­tion de­serves pub­lic at­ten­tion. Be­hav­ior on pub­lic oc­ca­sions such as wed­dings shows an in­di­vid­ual’s char­ac­ter. Some wed­ding-day pranks vi­o­late not only moral codes, but even the law. There­fore, it is nec­es­sary to learn about no­ble tra­di­tions, so­cial moral­ity and le­gal pro­vi­sions. Fur­ther­more, as wed­ding haz­ing usu­ally in­volves a group of peo­ple, the “crowd be­hav­ior” may lead to col­lec­tive un­con­scious­ness, that is, the peo­ple are prone to los­ing con­trol of them­selves and go­ing over­board. Hence, in ad­di­tion to peo­ple re­strain­ing them­selves, there should be regulations is­sued by govern­ment de­part­ments to reg­u­late such prac­tice. The Min­istry of Civil Af­fairs an­nounced in De­cem­ber last year its in­ten­tions to crack down on lav­ish wed­dings and look into in­creas­ingly se­vere haz­ing rit­u­als. But spe­cific mea­sures should be fur­ther ad­vanced. For in­stance, the haz­ing which Ai suf­fered in the street amounts to dis­rupt­ing so­cial or­der and should be out­rightly banned. After all, one’s wed­ding should be a col­lec­tion of good mem­o­ries in­stead of a play­ground of un­bri­dled be­hav­ior.

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