Per reports, authorities reportedly took a 40-year-old man in custody after doctors realized their pregnant patient, his “20-year-old wife,” was actually a 12-year-old child. According to the statement, the man accompanied the girl and a woman he called his mother to a hospital. The 40-year-old man told the hospital staff that he wanted the girl to undergo a routine test to confirm the fetus was healthy, but staff grew suspicious.

“It’s obvious she is just a child, and certainly not anywhere near 20-years-old,” a staff member said, adding that the child was unable to answer them as she did not speak Mandarin. “I took her here to be examined — just do your job,” he reportedly said in response to to their queries. “Stop asking so many questions.” 

Authorities in China later concluded the child was likely from Southeast Asia, and was abducted or brought in as a foreign bride. Parents from a wide variety of religious groups, ranging from Christian to Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and beyond, have allowed their children to marry adults.

“The solution is relatively simple,” writes Ress, founder of non-profit Unchained At Last. “State legislators should eliminate the archaic legal exceptions that allow children to wed. This is the only way to end child and forced marriage in the United States. Based on my own experience working with forced-marriage victims across the United States, I am sure many of these children had to marry against their will,” she added. “Forced marriage is a widespread but often ignored problem in the United States.”