Tue, Oct 14, 2008 - Page 4 News List

Community Compass: Welfare group highlights plight of Vietnam spouses

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

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A social welfare organization has urged the government to provide greater legal protection for divorced or abandoned Vietnamese spouses and to help protect the education rights of their children.

Good Shepherd Social Welfare Services said some Vietnamese women married to Taiwanese men and their children suffer serious consequences when they are divorced or abandoned.

If they stay in Taiwan, most of the women cannot earn a living as they have to take care of their children. If they return to Vietnam, their children, having only Republic of China nationality, cannot attend public schools there because of local regulations, said the group’s head, Sister Therese Thong.

“These children are deprived of their right to receive an education, and they might have hatred for Taiwan when growing up,” said Sister Thong, adding that private schools are not affordable for most Vietnamese spouses.

Sister Thong said that a non-governmental organization tried to open a Chinese-language school for such children two years ago, but the project failed as they were scattered all over Taiwan.

“What we are more worried about is whether traumatized women can still give decent care to their children,” she said.

She argued that the children’s education was the responsibility of both countries and demanded that the government find a solution to help people facing such a predicament.

In response, Hsieh Li-kung (謝立功), deputy director-general of the National Immigration Agency, said the government has a 10-year budget of NT$3 billion (US$92,000) to help foreign spouses, and non-governmental organizations can apply for funding in case of need. But Hsieh said it was up to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to negotiate with Vietnamese authorities on the education question.

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He said that foreign spouses are already protected by the Immigration Law (入出國及移民法) in particular situations, but acknowledged that enforcement rules need to be studied and amended to adapt to real needs.

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