Pattaya Daily News

15 November 2008 :: 22:11:21 pm 2112

The Perils of Managing a Foreign Husband

Marrying a foreign husband is seen by many Thai females as being a passport away from dire poverty and into a life of luxury. This is particularly true of Isarn women, specifically in the more remote villages, where these aspirants see their peers with fabulous houses, built with the funds of their farang husbands and sporting the accoutrements of a lavish lifestyle, like cars, swimming pools, home theatres, washing machines and designer clothes, albeit copies!
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However, for many Isarn women, these are often fond dreams, pure hype, nourished by rural legends; the reality is very different, the unfortunate women often being lured into prostitution and comparative sex slavery in their husbands’ countries, where they were taken under false pretences.

According to Mrs.Prakaikaew Ratanaka, local mayor and Chairwoman of the Association of Community Development Women Leaders Udonthani Province, there are 2 districts in Udonthani where the whole village only has foreign husbands. A foreign husband’s house was conspicuous by its beautiful architectural style, well-dressed people and expensive cars. Very few foreign husbands were prepared to live a traditional Thai lifestyle, pursuing farming, however.

The provinces with the majority of transnational marriage are Udonthani and Kon Kaen, followed by Maha Sarakham, Chaiyaphum, Srisaket, Buriram, and Loei respectively. Searching for partners via the internet is one of the favourite means of finding foreign husbands. More than 20 Thai women in Pako sub-district, Kutchab district, Udonthani, were charged around 60,000-100,000 baht by the brokerage agent for searching for foreign partners.

The National Operation Center on Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking, reporting on the human trafficking situation, stated that from 2002-2008, there had been 4,208 transnational marriages between Thai women and foreign men. Confirming the report, the Office of House Registration, the Ministry of Interior revealed that within a period of four years, almost twenty thousand Thai women and foreign men had registered for marriage licenses, with a considerable further number unregistered. As stated, some of them are victims of human trafficking gangs operated by Thais and nationals of the destination countries, including Germany, Switzerland, the Netherland, France, and Austria.

In Nongwuasor district, Udonthani, for instance, there are 2,800 transnational marriages, but only 500 possess marriage licenses. The rest of them are unsure about their future and a considerable proportion were lured into human trafficking groups. Educationally, 45% of the Thai women graduated at primary level, 41% at secondary level, 11%, securing a normal and high vocational certificate and 2% a bachelor’s degree. Because of high incidence of forced prostitution, the Public Media for People Participation for Human Security in Prevention and Remedy Human Trafficking 2008 Project, the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS) organized a mobile forum to attempt to solve the human trafficking problem, with the title of “Foreign Husband, the Way to Heaven or Hell” at Udonthani.

Assoc.Prof.Dr.Supawatanakorn Wongthanawasu, an instructor in the College of Local Administration, Graduate School, Khonkaen University, related that the highest number of transnational marriages occur in Udonthani and, at the same time, there is the also highest incidence of divorces. This could be seen as a result of community changes in lifestyle and core values. Their parents favour foreign husbands and recommend their children marry foreigners to have a better life. They only consider the positive side, disregarding the negative elements. In some cases, women had to live with 4-5 men before they found the right one.

“After marrying, the Thai women moved to their husbands’ countries. Several Thai women in Germany, for instance, had to prostitute themselves to support their husbands or risk being harmed. Some of these had even had to pay a brokerage agent to find foreign partners. One woman paid forty thousand baht to the broker and tried to live with a foreign husband before marrying. The prospective husband, however, later decided to opt out of the deal and returned to his native country never to return. Consequently, the woman wasted her brokerage fee and her ‘intended’ had free sexual intercourse.

There are a great number of matching agencies available in the Water Gate area, run through the postal service as well as through the internet. The number of Thai applicants is sufficiently large to warrent a pro-active approach by the government who could issue warnings of the potential pitfalls inherent in transnational marriages.

Assoc.Prof.Dr.Krittika Saenpot, Rector Assistant of Rajabhat Udonthani University stated that a survey of students’ attitudes towards having foreign husbands had revealed that the majority of participants wanted to have a foreign husband, primarily because of the economic dimension, including cars and money. The attitude could lead to potential human trafficking and corruption as well as illegal matching by unscroupulous agents.

The study also found that some families which have foreign husbands would likely have household commodities imported from Europe, such as washing machines, mobile phones, or sanitary ware. Although the family members are only employed to harvest peas, they are materialistic and extravagant. Thai culture, language, and eating habits inevitably also have to give way to Western culture. Instead of eating Somtam for breakfast, for instance, many Thai wives eat sausages, eggs, and fast food.

The majority of foreigners are retired and many have health problems, so Thai wives are responsible for taking care of them, not always with favourable outcomes, however. There was a diabetic foreigner, for example, who also suffered from psychological problems, that was inclined to severely beat a child of the Thai wife’s former marriage with a stick. Nevertheless, the Thai wife was forced to continue to look after him, despite his sadistic tendencies.

There are many Thai women who are lured illegally into foreign countries like Germany. Some of those women are sent to brothels and are unable to ask for help because they could not communicate in German. Because of this serious problem, the Thai Embassy and Thai temples in Germany are 24-hour on stand by to help the victims.

However, it is for the Thai government and NGOs to take pro-active measures, immediately, to pre-empt the traffickers and warn potential victims of the possible consequences of their avarice. Only by such concerted efforts will the dire trafficking problem be solved.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Society

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