Cambodia has suspended marriages between foreigners and
Cambodians amid concerns over an explosion in the number of brokered unions
involving poor, uneducated women, an official said on Thursday.
The move follows an International Organisation for Migration (IOM)
report highlighting the plight of an increasing number of Cambodian brides
migrating to South Korea in marriages hastily arranged by brokers who made
Some 1,759 marriage visas were issued by South Korea in 2007, up from
just 72 in 2004, the report said.
While no systematic exploitation was uncovered, several cases of abuse
did raise a red flag with the government, said You Ay, secretary of state
with the Women's Affairs Ministry.
"Seven women have returned from South Korea because they could not
stand what happened to them there," You Ay is said to have revealed.
"The government has temporarily suspended all (paperwork) for Cambodia
women to marry foreigners," she said.
You Ay said the ban, which was approved last week, would be lifted
after the government developed a legal framework to address mixed marriages.
"This suspension is to prevent human trafficking through marriage,"
she said, adding that while the brides often receive as little as 1,000 US
dollars, agencies can make tens of thousands of dollars on each marriage.
"Cambodia is working to strengthen the laws on marriage," You Ay said.
IOM project coordinator John McGeoghan said that while the report
targeted marriages between Cambodians and South Koreans, the potential for
problems exists globally and that brokered unions needed to be better
Three South Korean marriage agencies have been closed down in Cambodia
pending the government's decision on marriages to foreigners.
The South Korean embassy in Cambodia earlier this week halted issuing
residency visas to Cambodian women wishing to marry Korean men.