This 12-year-old Norwegian girl is getting married on Saturday

Thea is a 12-year-old girl from Norway. On Saturday, she will marry her fiancé, Geir, a thirty-seven year-old man. The young girl is even blogging about the special occasion and all the fun things she is doing to prepare, like tasting food and testing her wedding-day hair.

“My dream has always been that I want to be a vet because then I can work with horses and stuff like that all the time. But when I talked about it today so Mom said that I do not really need and work on some things or going to school now that I’m marrying Geir,” blogged Thea yesterday.

You are probably thinking, “There is no way this is real.”

Thea and Geir

Thea and Geir

You are right.

Thea’s marriage to Geir is not real. However, the 39,000 girls that are married each day before turning eighteen is real. More than two out of every three girls are married before eighteen in Chad, Niger and the Central African Republic. It is a global problem that some predict will see 142 million girls married before turning eighteen in this decade.

The campaign by Plan Norway is intended to provoke and illustrate the global problem of child marriage. It is working. More than 660,000 unique visitors from Norway have visited Thea’s blog. That represents roughly 12 percent of the country’s population.

Quite a few people have been duped by the blog posts. And you can’t blame them. The honest blog posts describe all the ways Thea is getting ready for her wedding. Amid descriptions of cakes and makeup, Thea describes the challenges to being a child bride and how it will disrupt her life.

Some visitors think it is real. Recent posts are filled with comments providing earnest advice and feedback to Thea. Plan Norway hopes that the outrage about a potential child bride in Norway can be channeled to child marriage around the world.

30639-13qqcgy“Actually I’m not very happy today just because I and my mom just arguing. I asked her if I could ask Sara and Annikenin wedding because I do so want them to come so they can know that we can remain friends even though I’m getting married and not see at school every day,” writes Thea in a translated post.

“To open the eyes of Norwegians to these tragic facts, we needed to adopt strong measures. Therefore we decided to put the brutal reality in a Norwegian context, so that the whole population takes an active position and helps in the fight against child marriage. This has shown to be a very effective way of telling the stories,” said Annika Diseth Yri, a Plan Norway communications staffer, via email.

Visitors to the blog are directed to Plan International’s “Because I am a Girl” campaign. The top of the blog reads “Stopp Bryllupet” (stop the wedding) and provide links to the campaign, Plan’s work and how to sponsor a girl. They are encouraged to join the campaign to stop child marriage and share it through social media with the #stoppbryllupet tag.

The Because I am a Girl campaign has reached more than 10 million people, said Yri. She expects global media coverage for the wedding this weekend, including television outlets from Russia and Germany. The run-up to the wedding was covered this week by Buzzfeed and the Independent.


Making the personal connection is behind the success of the campaign.

“We believe this massive response is due to the fact that we chose to bring the issue of child marriage home to a Norwegian context,” said Yri.

“We have seen that this has been effective method to get people engaged in the issue. We as Plan Norway are both impressed and grateful of the response of the Norwegian people. People who normally don’t engage in development issues, are now campaigning to stop child marriage and sharing our message.”


About Author

Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy is a New Hampshire-based reporter for Humanosphere. Before joining Humanosphere, Tom founded and edited the aid blog A View From the Cave. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, GlobalPost and Christian Science Monitor. He tweets at @viewfromthecave. Contact him at tmurphy[at]

  • Lily

    Haha wow this girl can’t be getting married at the age of 12, and what you do after your married I kinda would be scared if I’ve get married when I’m 12 I would wait tell I’m 40 to get married it just sounds better then me being 12 and getting married, I would never have enough money at that age. Anyways I’m just saying, but this is her life not mine she’s such a beautiful girl.

    • Rick

      did you even read the article?! It’s fake! It’s a way to make people aware that it IS real in some Countries and making people aware so that it can stop eventually.

    • JustJoeToo

      I can certainly understand your fear of being married at age 12. If you’re not bright enough to figure out what is written here, you’re probably not bright enough to leave the house on your own, let alone get married.
      Please tell me you’re not a grown women and they have not yet covered comprehension in class.

  • Michael .

    Interesting Idea! I’m kind of curious about the countries the ad campaign is covering, is the purpose to raise funding for social services in third world countries (and others) where this is prevalent?
    People tend to forget that up until the last century or so that getting married at a young age was very commonplace. In many third world countries it still is, families need to be started early and large families are common in an agricultural base, added to that the fact that the life expectancy was a lot shorter in the past,and still is in many countries where modern conveniences, health care qnd safety (wether from harm or safety issues) just dont exist.

    …of course its a whole different topic when you get to talking about forced arranged marriages, paid for bride marriages and veiled child slavery dressed up as something else. I think these should be addressed even more strongly.

    When there is something to achieve by staying single, finishing school, higher education, freedom of location and employment, then its an excellent idea! In modern countries, outside of forced marriages, arranged marriages and the like, the main reason for early marriage is fear. Marriage is a security blanket. Fear of being homeless, poor, broke, hungry. In some countries fear of being kidnapped, raped, forced prostitution. The list goes on.

    • Wade Spencer

      “Fear of being homeless, poor, broke, hungry.”
      Don’t forget being alone.

  • Charlie Jackson

    Her ring is on the wrong hand……that might be something you’d want to make sure is correct before you get married..

    • Hannah Matthau

      Some countries, including norway, have their engagement ring on the left hand then when getting married, the wedding ring goes on the right hand.