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 A fake wedding blog documenting a 12-year-old girl’s marriage to a 37-year-old man has caused an uproar around the world – and forced people to sit up and take a stand against child brides.

“Hey! My name is Thea and I’m 12 years old. I am getting married in one month!” So opened the blog of the One Direction loving schoolgirl. The world let out a collective gasp that this blonde-haired, blue-eyed innocent would be forced to go through with this old-fashioned practice. Except Thea’s blog was fake – an initiative undertaken by Plan Norway, a division of anti-child marriage organisation, Plan International, to highlight the plight of forced marriages.

“We want to show how horrible the practice of child marriage is and put it in a context that is familiar and normally associated with love, happiness and hope for the future. Many girls dream about their wedding day and this day is often referred to as one of the happiest days of their lives. But for 39,000 young girls who get married every day, their wedding day is the worst day of their life. Norway and the rest of the world has to wake up and help us stop child marriages in order to prevent what these girls are going through,” says Olaf Thommessen, National Director of Plan Norway.

plan norway, child bride

The plan worked. Countless distressed Norwegians contacted the police to put a stop to the impending October 11 wedding, which also happens to be the UN’s International Day of the Girl Child. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has already pledged to dedicate to this year’s commemoration to child brides, urging governments and communities everywhere to “let girls be girls.”

One in nine girls worldwide are married before they turn 15 and one in three are married before they are 18.  Yet with Western and Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia experiencing the largest number of child brides, many have expressed concern that it took a fair-haired Norwegian pre-teen to get the world talking about this all too common practice.

Then again, if it succeeds in stopping just one young female from being sold to the highest bidder, then surely using shock factor tactics are worth it?