The Mekong Times
The recent controversial governmental ban on marriage between Cambodians and foreigners – designed to protect vulnerable young Cambodian women, but which nevertheless received a barrage of withering criticism from NGOs and angry expatriates – looks set to be thrown out with a new marriage sub-decree.
The April ban was implemented to prevent the allegedly frequent abuse – including physical maltreatment and being sold into brothels – of Cambodian women, who often marry foreigners with the hope that their life will be better in countries more affluent than their impoverished homeland.
The provisional ban was instigated after reports Cambodian women, who had married mainly Taiwanese, South Korean and Malaysian men, were being abused overseas. At the time of the ban, marriage brokers specializing in marriages with foreigners were ordered to close down.
“We urgently want to pass the sub-decree that lifts the ban … [because it will] legally prevent human trafficking, rape, violation and sexual exploitation, which we have previously been informed is happening [to Cambodian women],” Sak Setha, director general of the Civil Administration Department of the Ministry of Interior, said on Wednesday.
A working group comprised of the ministries of Interior, Foreign Affairs, Women’s Affairs and Justice was to meet today to discuss final refinements of the sub-decree, which will once again give the go-ahead for foreigners to marry Cambodians, but the meeting has now been delayed until next week.
“The inter-ministerial working group has approved [the sub-decree]. We held meetings to ask for approval of the draft-law and made a decision to submit it to the government,” said Sak Setha yesterday.
The sub-decree is expected to cover all problems and issues concerning marriage between Cambodians and foreign nationals.
Since the mid-1990s, when the Cambodian international marriage trend began en masse, around 5,000 young Cambodian women have been married off – frequently in anonymous “mail-order bride” style – to Taiwanese men alone.