June 1, 2007 / 8:45 AM / 12 years ago

Taiwan MPs agree to stop overseas marriage brokers

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan legislators have agreed to push through a law banning for-profit agencies that arrange fast and sometimes fake marriages of local men with relatively poor Southeast Asian women, a legislative aide said on Friday.

Parliamentarians agreed to revise the Exit-Entry and Immigration Law by June 15, forcing about 150 agencies to register as government-regulated nonprofits, stop any new permits and ban any form of transnational marriage advertising, said Chen Hsue-hui, aide to bill proponent Shyu Jong-shyong.

“It’s because the arranged marriages can easily become situations in which the two parties are not equal, leading to conflicts,” Chen said.

Taiwanese men shop in China, Indonesia, Vietnam and other less developed areas for women they believe to be submissive, but who often just want a ticket out of a poorer country. Some are ditched, then later deported, if they don’t bear children or care for the man’s ageing relatives.

The men, sometimes from working-class backgrounds and cold-shouldered by local women, pay up to $10,000 for weeklong overseas exploratory trips that end with finding the girl.

But some foreign brides brought to Taiwan under the pretext of marriage end up as forced laborers or prostitutes, according to a U.S. State Department report on human trafficking. These cases have prompted immigration officials in Taiwan and Vietnam to get tougher on fake marriages.

According to the revised law, the government could fine agencies up to T$1 million ($30,300) for not re-registering and up to T$500,000 for taking out print, broadcast or Internet ads.

Agencies in Taipei declined to comment on the legislation.

Outlawing transnational marriage agencies might push them underground, said Le My-Nga, director of policy and planning with the Vietnamese Migrant Workers and Brides Office under the Hsinchu Catholic Diocese in Taiwan. But she backs the law.

“But you do what you need to do. I think it’s the right thing to do on principle,” said Le, who works with abandoned Vietnamese brides. “(For Taiwan) it’s a matter of being on their toes and looking at existing agencies and existing networks.”

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