17-year-old bridesmaid dies of alcohol poisoning after being ‘forced to drink’ at wedding in southern China
A 17-year-old bridesmaid has died of suspected alcohol poisoning amid accusations she was "forced to drink" at a wedding banquet in southern China.
The Guangzhou Daily reported that the girl was found dead, face-down in a hotel room, in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Police are investigating the incident.
The girl’s family have claimed she was forced to drink at the banquet, an accusation the bride has rejected.
However, such practices are not uncommon at Chinese weddings.
According to the report, the teenager had begun with soft drinks at the wedding in Meizhou, Guangdong province, but switched to alcohol when the traditional toasting of the married couple began.
The drinking of strong white liquor known as baijiu is considered an important part of social gatherings, especially weddings, in China.
It’s typical for newlyweds to individually toast every guest at the wedding, although bridesmaids will often be expected to stand in for the bride when she doesn’t want to drink.
As the banquet was wrapping up around 1am, hotel surveillance footage shows the bridesmaid falling several times in the lift, despite being supported by two young men.
She then reportedly fell asleep face-down in a room while her companions, who had also been drinking, fell asleep themselves.
In 2016, a 28-year-old bridesmaid died of alcohol poisoning at a wedding in Wenchang, Hainan province.
A viral video showed her being egged on to drink huge amounts baijiu before finally collapsing.
She was taken to hospital but pronounced dead. Preliminary investigations showed she choked on her own vomit.
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Besides excessive drinking, modern-day Chinese bridesmaids are also vulnerable to verbal, physical and sexual harassment.
The originally innocent games that accompany Chinese weddings have taken a dark turn in recent years, with bridesmaids often having to fend off drunken groomsmen intent on humiliating them with embarrassing and increasingly sexualised stunts.
In June last year, a 22-year-old bridesmaid fell to her death in Foshan, Guangdong province, trying to escape over-eager groomsmen in the traditional “fetching of the bride” ceremony.
As such, many women are reluctant to be bridesmaids for their friends, creating a market for a paid service. Professional bridesmaids have become a routine option on wedding packages in China.
The hired young women are required to drink on behalf of the bride, play along with the games and absorb the attention of over-zealous male attendees.