“If There Is Really A Next Life, I Want To Marry a Khmer Man”
June 12, 2010, 9:10 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

“If There Is Really A Next Life, I Want To Marry a Khmer Man”

Around 2,800 Cambodian Women Married to Taiwanese

Denied Taiwanese Citizenship

By Yim Kimse and Chea Kimsan

——

 More than 10 years ago, Samnang decided to free herself from being hired to transplant rice seedlings and harvest rice under the burning sun in Sdao commune, Kang Meas district, Kompong Cham province, in the hope that she would enjoy a better life when a matchmaker persuaded her to marry a Taiwanese man who they had told her was a wealthy man.

Samnang hoped that after the marriage, she would get some money to support her aged parents after she had gone to live in Taiwan. However, all her hopes were dashed when she eventually became the one who earned money to support her husband’s family in Taiwan.

However, Samnang is not the only Khmer girl who has turned out to be victims due to her cross-border marriage with the Taiwanese or Korean men.

According to many researches conducted so far, the Khmer girls who had married the Taiwanese or Korean men have been exploited and trafficked.

Prime Minister Hun Sen reacted in March 2008 that: “Previously, they cheated children to come to work in the city and they became victims. Now, there is another kind of cheating through getting marriage and then go to live abroad.”

Samnang, the name given by journalists to protect her honor and safety, gave an phone interview from Taiwan on December 23, 2009, describing her life after she had married a Taiwanese man and gone to live in Taiwan.

Samnang said that more than 10 years ago she had married a 42-year-old Taiwanese widower who had two children at a restaurant in Prek Leab Commune with the preparations organized by the matchmaker. A week after the marriage, she flew for the first time in her life and was full of hope from Cambodia to live with her husband in Taiwan.

“At first, I thought that I was the luckiest of all the girls in my village,” she said, adding that during the first year she were living in Taiwan she had often sent money to her parents in Cambodia, thus enabling them to build a new house.

Samnang said she had always wanted a child, but her husband always refused by raising many reasons. Then, she discovered that the reason why her husband did not want her to have a child was because he wanted her to work at a factory to get money to support his family with five members.

Although Samnang had lived in Taiwan for more than 10 years, she said she had not yet been naturalized because her husband forbad her to register to get citizenship for fear that she would run away from home and there would be no one to work to support his family in Taiwan.

Not only Samnang regretted having done that, but her whole family in Cambodia also regretted it.

Her 60-year old mother living in Sdao commune said that she had known about her daughter’s hard life in Taiwan and that she had pitied her daughter very much.

She recalled that her family was previously very poor due to having no farmland. Coincidentally, a matchmaker came to persuade her daughter to marry a Taiwanese man and she agreed with the hope that her daughter would help make the family’s life better> But she made a mistake like her daughter.

Besides Samnang, many other Khmer girls also lived miserable lives, working at various factories to earn money to support their Taiwanese husbands’ families. Moreover, many more Khmer women still have been sexually exploited and through labor.

Mrs. Long Sitha, 55, also living in Sdao commune and marrying her daughter to a Taiwanese man, said she was very happy to see her daughter getting married with a Taiwanese man though the wedding ceremony was not big and she could get only 300 US dollars as the cost for mother’s breast milk. She said she thought her daughter was lucky to get married with a foreigner to go to live abroad and she often boasted about her daughter to her neighbors. But, she said she had nothing to say now except having pity on her daughter.

“My son-in-law has a mistress and he considers my daughter as only a helper,” she said.

 

APPROX. 2,800 CAMBODIAN WOMEN MARRIED TO TAIWANESE MEN HAVE NO CITIZENSHIP

According to Taipei Times, published online in March 2007, a group of Cambodian women who were married to Taiwanese men protested in front of the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and accused it of discriminating against them on the issue of obtaining Taiwanese citizenship.

The Taipei Times reported that approximately 2,800 Cambodian women who were married to Taiwanese men were not able to become Taiwanese citizens.

According to the Taiwanese citizenship law, foreign nationals are required to submit a certificate of renunciation of nationality issued by their country of origin before they can obtain Taiwanese citizenship.

A spokesman for the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs was quoted by Taipei Times as saying that most Cambodian women who had applied for Taiwanese citizenship had fake marriage certificates.

Mrs. Chou Bun Eng, Under Secretary of State for the Ministry o Interior, said according to the policy of the government, Cambodian authorities could not issue marriage certificates to women who were married to Taiwanese men. Moreover, she said the Cambodian authorities could not directly intervene and help Cambodian women who were married with Taiwanese men.

She said in the past the Cambodian authorities could only helped those women indirectly by supporting various non-governmental organizations working to help Khmer women in Taiwan.

Mrs. Chou Bun Eng continued that so far the Cambodian authorities had requested China through the Chinese Embassy in Cambodia to help Khmer women who were living in Taiwan and that the Chinese Embassy had promised to help those Khmer women.

The AP News Agency has quoted a report by the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center after a fact finding mission in 2006 that there were 5,219 Cambodian women currently living in Taiwan.

Reasmei Kampuchea reporters could not get comments from Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center in Phnom Penh, where a receptionist at the Center told the reporter to submit a request for the interview in advance.

Mrs. Lim Mony, Head of Women’s Program at ADHOC said a Cambodian delegation from the non-governmental organizations had paid a visit to Taiwan and met with the Taiwanese President.

She said during the meeting the Taiwanese President recognized that 2,800 of more than 5,000 Cambodian women who were married with Taiwanese men had not been naturalized.

Mrs. Mony said the Taiwanese President had promised to find solutions for those Khmer women.

For Samnang, despite the promise from the Taiwanese President to help the 2,800 Cambodian women to get Taiwanese citizenship, she would not be able to get the citizenship easily since her husband even refused to let her apply for the Taiwanese citizenship.

However, what Samnang can do is to continue living according to her fate in Taiwan alone to work to support her husband’s family.

“I must struggle to live by leaving my life to fate and try to work hard to save some money and send it to my old parents in Cambodia,” she said, sobbing.

Moreover, what Samnang is sorry for is the fact that she had rejected a man who lived in the same commune and who loved and wanted to marry her.

“If there is a next life, I want to get married with a Khmer man,” she said, sighing deeply.

– Original Report appeared in Reasmei Kampuchea, Tuesday, January 5, 2010

 

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