Monday, August 11, 2008

Marriage & Vietnamese Women

A rather unusual article came my way - concerning the increase in the number of young Vietnamese women who are marrying in order to escape poverty. Well why not, you ask - this isn't something strictly Vietnamese - women worldwide have been doing it for centuries.

But an industry has been built up around this - offering young women what seems to be an escape from poverty - but that, unfortunately, is not always the case.

"Nearly 70 young Vietnamese women swept past in groups of five, twirling and posing like fashion models, all competing for the hand of a Taiwanese man who had paid a matchmaking service about $6,000 for the privilege of marrying one of them.

From the delta in Vietnam's south to small rural towns in the north, a growing number of young Vietnamese women are marrying foreigners, mostly from Taiwan and South Korea. They seek material comfort and, most important, a way to save their parents from destitution in old age, which many Vietnamese consider their greatest duty.

Women in Tan Loc and other delta towns began marrying foreigners in the 1990s, when Vietnam opened up economically and many Taiwanese and South Korean firms set up operations in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's southern business hub.

Poverty and the close proximity of foreign businessmen seem to be major reasons for the trend. The biggest complaints come from women's groups, who consider it demeaning, and from young village men for whom the pool of potential brides is shrinking.

Besides the marriage broker's fee, the groom gives about $300 to his bride's family, Lang said. After that, if all goes well, her husband may send up to several thousand dollars a year to her family , depending on what he can afford.

More than 100,000 Vietnamese women have married Taiwanese men over the last 10 years and the numbers are rising, said Gow Wei Chiou of the Taiwan representative office in Hanoi. In the same period, roughly 28,000 Korean men married Vietnamese, according to the Vietnam Women's Union."

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