Planet China

Family Embrace

Revelations of sexual harassment across the entertainment industry were one of the biggest news stories in 2017. But they don’t seem to have reached the residents of the Jiangsu city of Yancheng. In recent days a video of a wedding banquet has gone viral that shows a bridegroom’s father kissing his new daughter-in-law in an apparently forcible way (we’re not talking about a peck on the cheek). The body language suggests the bride is distraught and the case has provoked a lot of discussion.

Lawyers for the father-in-law have subsequently told media that the incident was not harassment but part of a longstanding Yancheng custom of “teasing” the bride at her wedding. “In accordance with Yancheng customs of wedding horseplay, Mr Bian made an ‘act’ of appearing to kiss the bride,” the Jiangsu Dazhi law firm told the Yangtze Evening Post. “The move was purely meant to meet the expectations of the banquet guests and create a happy atmosphere instead of actually kissing her.”

Modern Express then quoted a local expert on Yancheng customs who said the practice dates back to 1600 and was supposed to help to integrate the daughter-in-law into the family. However, Wang Dengzuo, another expert in local Jiangsu culture, told the South China Morning Post, “Wedding customs are constantly changing. We should only inherit the positive and good ones, and must abandon the bad ones.”

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