A man in east China is facing jail for marrying three women in three years.
The 36-year-old man, surnamed Zhang, had a child with each of his 'wives' between 2015 and 2017 and arranged for the families to live within a one-kilometre radius in Jiangsu province for convenience, Chinese media revealed.
Zhang, who is from central Henan province and worked as a property agent in Kunshan, Jiangsu, was reported to the authorities by his wives after they discovered each other.
The man has been charged with bigamy and taken to court, according to Jiangsu Broadcasting Corporation. If convicted, he could face up to two years in jail.
Zhang told reporters he didn't realise it was illegal to marry more than one woman.
'I'll be with whoever forgives me when I get out of jail,' he said.
Zhang married his first wife, surnamed Ren, in Kunshan - where he worked - in 2015 and the second wife, surnamed Chen, in his hometown in Henan province in 2016. He then married the third woman, surnamed Wang, in her hometown in Anhui province in 2017.
The second and third woman met Zhang when they were looking for property.
The crime went undetected as the civil affairs authorities of these provinces did not share a database, according to the report.
Zhang said he was able to earn tens of thousands of yuan a month thanks to the booming property market and did not have a problem providing for all three families, the report said.
He arranged for them to live within a one kilometre radius and spent time with each family while lying about travelling for work.
However, he told reporters that juggling the families left him 'tired' as he travelled between the three residential areas more than 10 times every week.
In March 2017, his second wife, Chen, became suspicious after discovering text messages between Zhang and another woman. She followed him on one of his 'business trips' and found the first wife after he arrived at a nearby residential area.
Chen also discovered Zhang's third wife - who was pregnant with his child - after texting an unknown number that was constantly calling him.
The shocking discovery led Zhang's first wife to divorce him last year. The other two women filed a police report in March.
Zhang was charged with bigamy in November. The case, reported by the television channel on Saturday, sparked outrage on social media as net users slammed the government oversight.
'How was he able to obtain three marriage certificates in the first place? What were the civil affairs authorities doing? one comment read on Weibo.
'If he was really unaware that multiple marriages broke the law, then why did he applied for marriage certificates in three different provinces?' one user said.
'He still expects the women to forgive him after all this, what is he thinking?' another user said.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.