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Cambodian-Foreign Marriages to be Allowed Again Soon

By: The Mekong Times Posted: April-30-2008 in
The Mekong Times

The temporary ban on marriages between foreign men and Cambodian women on March 29 should hopefully be resolved soon, officials said yesterday. Drafts of two sub-decrees stipulating the rules for weddings between foreign men and Cambodian women will be reviewed for a final decision in the near future, said You Ay, secretary of state for the Ministry of Women's Affairs.

A meeting yesterday at the Ministry of Women's Affairs saw the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International cooperation and the Interior Ministry discuss the new legislation with international organizations and development partners.

"We want to collect all views to consider and listen to the concerns of the relevant people and record their recommendations" You Ay said. She did not specify when the sub-decree would be released.

The new sub-decree on Cambodian-foreign marriages came after widespread criticism of wedding agencies accused of human trafficking. Korea and Taiwan were alleged to be the biggest culprits.

A recent International Organization for Migration (IOM) report slammed increasing Cambodian "bride exports" to South Korea. In 2007, the number of marriage licenses issued by the Korean embassy in Cambodia rose to 1,759, up from a mere 72 in 2004.

Cambodian government officials have claimed that seven Cambodian women fled Korea after suffering abuse, an allegation rejected by the Korean embassy. Korean embassy officials complained the IOM report misreported facts.

"All weddings [are from] free will which depends on the legal procedures of the two countries," said Shin Hyun, a South Korean diplomat, in a recent statement. He denied any Cambodian women had been trafficked to Korea using false weddings.

Kek Galabru, director of human rights group Licadho, and Ros Sopheap, executive director of the Gender and Development Organization, both said that banning Cambodian women from marrying foreigners violates international law and women rights. Both stressed that the education of Cambodian women intending to marry foreign nationals was the best way to proceed.

"Some of [the] 5,000 Cambodian women married to Taiwan and Korean men are being mistreated," Kek Galabru claimed. "It is good that the government cancelled the licenses of marriage companies. This measure can prevent the trafficking of Cambodian women, but it contrasts with the international law or Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women [CEDAW] that Cambodia ratified in 1992."

This article first appeared in The Mekong Times
The Mekong Times is a daily newspaper distributed in Cambodia.
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