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|Wednesday, February 14, 2001, updated at 09:11(GMT+8)|
Online Affairs Trendy But TroublesomeA cyber writer from Shanghai who calls herself "Hecong" recently announced that she and her virtual boyfriend "Alei" will hold an online wedding ceremony on Valentine's Day, and surfers are welcome to participate as relatives and friends.
With the coming of the holiday for lovers, many websites have decorated with wedding frills hoping to attract more surfers to join the rising trend of virtual knot-tying.
To date, about 100,000 surfers in China have played the online marriage game, and now many actual spouses are speaking out about the damage done by cyber love, according to Tuesday's Life Times.
A woman surnamed Ni from southwest China's Sichuan Province recently petitioned to divorce her husband for "marrying" an unknown woman on the net. "They even have a 'baby'," Ni complained.
In Zhuhai, a southern coastal city, one bride canceled her wedding after she discovered that her beloved was having cyber- style love affairs with several women he had never met.
"I can't share my husband with other women even if their affairs are only virtual. I just can't stand it," the ex-bride-to- be said.
Gu Xiaoming, a professor with the Shanghai-based Fudan University, said that online affairs allow surfers to release hidden desires which they don't feel comfortable expressing in the real world.
Gu warned that the psychological torment inflicted upon the innocent victims of the "virtual marriage" can be equal to that caused by real love affairs.
"A virtual marriage is not a legal marriage and online affairs are immoral," Gu said.
Legal experts have noted that although current Chinese law doesn't cover cyber affairs, the pain caused by virtual love affairs can be taken into account during divorce proceedings.
The phenomenon of virtual marriages among teenage surfers some of whom are married to as many as eight spouses at a time has attracted widespread attention in China.
A young girl who calls herself "Meimei" said that making boy friends on the net is safe and her teachers and parents can't find out about it.
A 16-year-old boy said£º"I held a 'wedding ceremony' not long ago. It's a pity that I don't know whether my wife is pretty or not." Experts have warned that young women, especially teenage girls, often borrow trouble when their virtual affairs become real. In one widely reported case that occurred on January 23, the eve of the Chinese lunar New Year, a 15-year-old girl from the eastern China city of Yantai stole money from her parents in order to meet her online boyfriend in Suzhou.
The experts have pointed out that law-making bodies should review the virtual marriage trend as it challenges Chinese traditional values.
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