Marriage database to go online

08:51, December 30, 2010      

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China will establish a nationwide online database for marriage registration by the end of 2015 to enhance efficiency and prevent marital fraud, a senior civil affairs official has said.

The network will be completed within five years, Vice-Minister of Civil Affairs Dou Yupei told a meeting on regulating marriage registration in Beijing on Tuesday.

"It will not only provide technical support to improve our marriage management and services, but also will act as a protective screen against illegal acts, such as bigamy and the concealment of marriage," Dou said.

Chen Wei, a lawyer with Yingke Law Firm in Beijing, told China Daily the measure is timely and necessary in the "strangers' society" created by high mobility.

"Polygamy is illegal, but it still happens," Chen said.

"Some people have used current administrative loopholes that make it difficult to check someone's marital status."

The Ministry of Civil Affairs figures show 23 provinces and autonomous regions have built their own online databases. The lack of a national database has made bigamy possible.

That was why Hu Qinxian, from Jiangkou village, in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, was able to marry two men in two years.

Hu first registered with a man surnamed Pan in November 2008 and gave birth to a daughter, Guizhou Metropolis Daily reported.

She left Pan without divorcing him, and married another man in a different village six months later.

Pan learned of the second marriage and took her to court. Hu was convicted of bigamy and sentenced to six months in jail on Monday.

Dou urged the provinces without online databases to accelerate the digitization of local marriage registration information to make a nationwide database possible by 2015.

The vice-minister also said more people are opting to book marriage registration appointments online, thanks to expanded services and information on civil affair departments' websites.

He cited Shenzhen city, where 70 percent of applicants made online reservations for their "big days".

Dou also urged civil affairs departments to emphasize the stability of marriage as an institution.

"The divorce rate has been rising, which reflects our citizens' growing freedom," he said.

"But families' disintegration is usually traumatic for both partners and their children. And it will cause social problems when divorce rates become too high."

Civil affairs departments should provide more marriage consultations and guidance, he said.

Cao Yin contributed to this story.

By He Dan, China Daily
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