Millions of girls across Asia are being sold into prostitution, forced into child labour, and married against their will. Over two weeks the Herald and World Vision will tell their stories so you can make a difference.

A "child bride" and her 55-year-old groom walked out of Auckland's St Paul's Church this afternoon to have their photos taken.

The young bride's face remained glued to the ground while the groom held her hand tight - smiling sternly.

Some passersby turned their heads in horror and muttered words of disgust from afar but not one person approached the newlyweds.

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While hundreds of people witnessed the spectacle, at least half walked past without a second glance.

The Herald spoke to some of the people who expressed concern and a sigh of relief was given when they were told the pair were actors performing a stunt as part of a Herald-World Vision campaign.

The Not for Sale campaign aimed to highlight the plight of child marriage in Asia, where one in nine girls are married before they turn 15.

For Mini Handa, who migrated to New Zealand from England, this sight was confronting and "unbelievable".

"I thought he was her father about to walk her down the aisle. To think this happening in reality, that's really concerning, I mean she is only just a baby."

World Vision New Zealand national director Grant Bayldon said the purpose of holding the stunt in Auckland city was to "bring home" the issue of child marriage.

"Often when people hear about injustices happening around the world, it can be difficult to comprehend the effect they have.

"When they see the same injustices happening in their own backyard, it can make the issue much more real, and people understand the need to act," Bayldon said.

Carmen Lynne and Michelle Wicks were sitting by the waterfront having a glass of wine in the afternoon sun when they spotted the couple getting their photos taken.

"At first I yelled out 'congratulations' then I looked closer and saw how unhappy the bride was. She looked so young, far too young to be getting married, it gave me the creeps," Wicks said.

Lynne said she yelled out "don't marry him" because she felt it was so wrong and she was so unhappy.

A 18-year-old
A 18-year-old "child bride" marries a 55-year-old man in a stunt. Photo / Jo Currie

Around 1.2 million children were trafficked each year worldwide, and more than half of all the children around the world aged between 2 and 17 experienced some form of violence.

World Vision campaigner Chloe Irvine said she was pleased with how it went. The "child bride" actress was actually 18.

"It was interesting that people didn't say anything in front of them but you could see them looking back a lot and talking among themselves.

"We heard comments like 'that's disgusting' and 'is that for real?' which is the kind of reactions we were hoping for."

This week the Herald has been telling stories from around Asia of girls being sold into prostitution, forced into child labour and married against their will.

The Not for Sale campaign had, as of yesterday, raised $62,000 and runs until the end of next week.

Fast facts about child trafficking:

• More than half of all children aged 2-17 (1 billion worldwide) experience some form of violence each year.
• 152 million children are in child labour around the world. 73 million of those are in hazardous work.
• 1.2 million children are trafficked each year worldwide.
• 28 per cent of all detected trafficking victims are children.
• 25 per cent of women in the world aged 20-24 were married by 18 years old.
• 6 per cent of women in the world aged 20-24 were married before 15 years old.
• Each year, 15 million girls are married before they reach the age of 18 — that's one girl every two seconds.

To donate to the Not for Sale campaign go to World Vision
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