Russia's top official in charge of children's rights made headlines this week by defending marriage to teenage girls, because "there are places where the women are already wrinkled at 27."
Pavel Astakhov, the children's rights ombudsman, made the remarks in response to questions about the wedding of a 17-year-old girl in the Russian republic of Chechnya to a middle-aged police captain, reportedly against her will. Various reports put the groom's age at 57 and 46.
The legal age of consent to marry is 18 under Russia's federal law but can be set lower in certain regions. According to Astakhov, Chechnya's age of consent is 17. "The constitution forbids interfering in citizens' personal business," he added.
Russian women are posting selfies in protest, using the hashtags #wrinkledwoman and #helloastakhov.
"Wrinkles from Mr. Astakhov, a long time already"
"That hypocritical chauvinist is in charge of protecting children's rights in Russia."
"Almost 27, it's almost all over."
"This 27-year-old #wrinkledwoman thinks it's long overdue for #Astakhovtobedismissed."
Astakhov apologized on Instagram, saying "women of all ages are beautiful and delightful."
"Wrinkled woman knows shit when she sees it."
Life News, a pro-Kremlin tabloid with ties to Russia's security services, reported Saturday that the marriage between 17-year-old Luiza Goylabieva and police captain Nazhud Guchigov had been officially registered.
A Chechen official told Kavpolit.com that the groom was already married to another woman.
"Love knows no age," Chechnya's strongman president Ramzan Kadyrov, who has been widely accused of human rights abuses, wrote earlier on Instagram, quoting Pushkin's Eugene Onegin.
Susie Armitage is the Global Managing Editor and is based in New York.
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