Tue, Jan 04, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Foreign bride problem needs fixing

By Wang Hwei-kwang王惠光

News items featuring foreign brides are becoming increasingly common in the media. This is partly because of the growing number of foreign brides that reside in Taiwan. But there are a number of issues that the government persists in ignoring, not least the creation of legislation to regulate marriages to foreign nationals.

To uphold the sanctity of marriage and the moral values of society, even marriages between Taiwanese citizens should follow certain rules. Therefore, making legislation to regulate marriages with non-citizens is not only legally feasible, but also necessary. There are three points we need to consider.

First, the sale of foreign brides. Any marriage based on a financial transaction is not only immoral but also illegal under Article 71 of the Civil Code (民法). Many marriages between Taiwanese men and foreign brides have only a subtle financial element to them, while many others are purchases, pure and simple. If both parties in the marriage regard it as a commercial transaction, this will affect the relative status of husband and wife, and will also affect how the children of this marriage perceive the status of their mother. Therefore, rules and regulations governing marriage of this type are part of the protection of human rights rather than a violation of human rights.

Second, there is the question of fake marriages, which are particularly common with brides from China. A fake marriage is considered invalid according to Article 87 of the Civil Code, and may also leave both parties in the marriage vulnerable to criminal liability for making a false declaration when completing documentation for bringing the Chinese spouse to Taiwan. When police uncover fake marriages, the Chinese woman often spends many months in detention centers awaiting repatriation, while a man faces no severe punishment. Fake brides from China usually come to Taiwan to work as prostitutes, and take up a place in the quota of genuine cross-strait marriages.

Third, according to Article 573 of the Civil Code, an agreement promising a remuneration for matrimonial brokerage is void. The rule of law seeks to uphold the sanctity of marriage. Matchmaking businesses are not supposed to make huge profits, so that marriage brokers are prevented from contributing to the formation of bogus marriages. Marriage brokers who introduce women from Southeast Asia to Taiwan are breaking the law, and often the marriages sought by men are nothing more than a commercial transaction, making this kind of business immoral. Related ads and flyers are rampant across the country and even some TV channels run this type of commercial without any effort by the government to clamp down. These marriage brokers are the source of the trade in Southeast Asian brides. Without the arrangements made by these people, there would not be so many brides being purchased.

Although some might claim that the freedom to marry should not be interfered with, I am sure no one will oppose regulating the marriage brokers. Control them, and the problem with the sale of foreign women will be greatly reduced.

While many people here are dissatisfied with Taiwan, there are plenty of people from other countries who consider Taiwan a good place to live and wish to settle here.

Immigration can certainly be regulated, but when marriages come about through commercial transactions or so that foreigners can obtain residency, they do not conform to the traditional values of marriage. And if this is so, there should be no objection to making legislation to regulate it. The US, for example, is a country receptive to immigrants, and its laws to protect the sanctity of a marriage are as strict as ours. But the US is actually strict with people planning to stay permanently in the US as a result of a marital relationship. Immigration officials check the authenticity of a marriage with intrusive questions about intimate matters. We cannot allow the sanctity of marriage and personal freedom to obstruct government regulations in this matter.

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