Bulgarian Girl Has Three Kids Aged 16Views on BG | June 20, 2011, Monday // 15:52| views
By Neil Syson
A child bride who has three children aged just 16 is at the centre of a 'stolen innocence' storm in Bulgaria.
Tiny Tinka Angelova gave birth last month to her third child, son Dinko, just 23 months after she first became a mother.
She was still playing with dolls when she met husband Biser Demirev — nine years her senior — aged 13.
The pregnant youngster was forced to leave school, married at 14, and now lives in poverty on a cattle farm in Saedinenie, central Bulgaria, 30 miles from her parents.
She spends her days looking after baby Dinko, daughter Naska, two, and son Gospodin, one.
The legal age for sex and marriage in Bulgaria, which joined the European Union in 2007, is 16 — the same as the UK.
But officials in capital Sofia have been accused of turning a blind eye to underage marriages in rural communities in order to protect election votes.
Regional prosecutor Georgi Katsarov said: "I've been appealing to the court for years for these illegal marriages to be exposed.
"The law says offenders might get up to two years in jail - and parents three. We have to put an end to this practice.
"When the husband and the wife are both under 16 there is less we can do, but adult offenders should be punished."
Government child protection agency spokesman Kamelia Nikolova added: "To marry, or even live with someone under 16 is sexual offence according to the law.
"But officials do not consider the law. The children themselves are not aware that such marriages, in most cases arranged by their own parents, are not right and are illegal."
Tinka confessed she rarely smiles now and misses her friends and playing.
The young mum said: "My worst fear is that the social services might take away my children, and send them to a foster home.
"They pay regular visits, and always say that I am too young to take care of them - it's not easy. Now I think that three is enough.
"When I was pregnant for the first time, my parents were not happy. I was 13 and wanted to play like the other children. I miss my friends."
Biser, 25, admitted: "It was all wrong, but I loved her. "
Steliana Kojuharova, spokeswoman for Bulgaria's chief prosecutor Boris Velchev, said: "Though formally there is enough evidence that there is an offence, there is a feeling because of traditions and specific culture this should not be regarded as a crime.
"Putting some of the offenders in jail is just a matter of time. The victims don't realise they are being sexually exploited."
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