Lawmakers and members of a private self-help group said yesterday that some foreign women married to local men are being denied their basic rights and urged the incoming government to address the situation.
Josephine Chu (
"Besides the need to become accustomed to the way of life in Taiwan, these young women are usually expected to take care of all the domestic chores. Still, their basic rights are not properly protected," Chu said.
PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES.
She said that official figures show that there are over 100,000 foreign women married to local men. Most of them come from Southeast Asia and China.
Currently, foreigners can apply for ROC citizenship after they have been married to local citizens for three years, but they must first relinquish their original nationality.
If they do not wish to give up their citizenship, they can apply for permanent residency after they have been married five years.
However, unless they obtain ROC citizenship, these foreign spouses are required to apply for permits with the government before they are allowed to work in Taiwan, although the procedures are simpler than those for average foreigners.
Chu said this requirement has become an obstacle for many foreign wives, because most employers would rather work around the law where possible instead of going through the legal paper work.
In cases where a couple divorces before the foreign spouse obtains citizenship or permanent residency, foreign wives without children are not allowed to stay in Taiwan because they do not have a household registration certificate, Chu noted.
Chu said that these women cannot inherit their husbands' property in case of death and have problems obtaining legal custody of their children in case of divorce.
"These situations give their husbands and in-laws the chance to take advantage of these women's helplessness to exploit them," Chu said.
Sister Stephana Wei Wei (
Wei also said that the center has encountered some extreme cases, where the husbands or in-laws do not allow the foreign wives to learn Mandarin or Taiwanese to keep them from seeking outside help.
"A large number of women are being kept in the dark about what their rights are. We don't know what sort of conditions they are living under and what their problems are," Wei said.
Mercy, a Filipino woman who has been married to a Taiwanese husband for 15 years, said she has heard a lot of stories about the miseries of women who have married local men, although her own marriage is a happy one.
"One woman whose husband died was not allowed to stay in the country because she did not have a household registration certificate," Mercy said.
"Another friend telephoned me in tears because her in-laws were trying to beat her," she said.
Hsia Hsiao-chuan (夏曉鵑), an assistant professor at Shih Hsin University's graduate school for social transformation studies has conducted research into the situation. Hsia said that many Taiwanese men who marry Southeast Asian women are farmers, laborers and even the physically or mentally challenged.
"They tend to be the neglected groups in society and have tried to resolve their problem of finding a mate by looking for women in third-world countries who have limited finances," Hsia said.
Since 1990 more and more foreign wives have been coming from Indonesia and Vietnam, she said.
However, as the government did not begin keeping records of foreign wives until 1994, their numbers are in all likelihood underreported, Hsia said.
Hsia pointed out that while these women have difficulty getting a job without an ROC identification card, this problem sometimes continues even after they get ROC citizenship because the government may not recognize their educational credentials obtained in their mother countries.
"The government must stop treating them as second-class citizens, because they are an important group of women who are raising our next generation," Hsia said.
She said the present system is damaging the positive potential that these women could have in society. Isolating them from others and restricting their personal freedom is no way to treat these woman or any others, for that matter, she said.
DPP legislator Fan Sun-lu (
Fan said she believes the new government will coordinate among the relevant ministries and agencies to try to improve the situation.
As far as the Ministry of Education is concerned, Fan said, it needs to extend the adult education programs to newly arrived foreign wives to help their Chinese literacy so that they can better integrate into society.
There was a net reduction last year in the number of Taipei residents and this year is expected to set a 23-year high for population decline in the city, Ministry of the Interior statistics released yesterday showed. From January to last month, 18,861 more people moved out of Taipei than moved into the capital, an increase of 7,000 from the same period last year, the data showed. That is a 7.2 percent decrease in the city’s population since the start of the year, the biggest drop in both percentage and total number among all municipalities and counties nationwide, the data showed. The data
COUNCILS CLASH: The Mainland Affairs Council said a new office in Hong Kong is to assist people with issues related to investment, study and employment in Taiwan The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday denied an accusation by the Hong Kong-Taiwan Economic and Cultural Co-operation and Promotion Council that its Taiwanese counterpart in the territory was “interfering with Hong Kong’s internal affairs.” The Hong Kong council leveled the accusation after Taipei’s Taiwan-Hong Kong Economic and Cultural Co-operation Council this month announced it would establish a Taiwan-Hong Kong Services and Exchanges Office to facilitate humanitarian aid for Hong Kongers. The new office is scheduled to begin operations on Wednesday. The MAC yesterday asked the Hong Kong council to “not misinterpret” the government’s intentions. The two Taiwan-Hong Kong councils were established in 2010 to
IRRESPONSIBLE ATTITUDES? Some experts say the NHI system does not do enough to educate the public, or pay doctors to talk to patients, about healthy lifestyles While the life expectancy of Taiwanese newborns in 2018 reached 80.69 years, the number of years people spent in poor health hit a record high at 8.41 years, Ministry of Health and Welfare statistics showed on Saturday. Healthy life expectancy is calculated by a person’s life expectancy minus the time they spend in ill health, such as the loss of mobility, disabilities and chronic disease, based on medical records and calculations about the years they live with disabilities. The number of years that Taiwanese spend in poor health is increasing slowly, but steadily, rising by 0.46 years, or five-and-a-half months, between 2012
UPTICK IN NUMBERS: The Taipei deputy mayor said the city has services to assist new immigrants, but has established an office specifically to help those from Hong Kong The Taiwan-Hong Kong Services and Exchanges Office today officially opens, where it is to provide humanitarian assistance to Hong Kongers, after Beijing yesterday passed a controversial national security law for the territory. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) expressed dismay over China’s passage of the law, saying that Beijing has broken its pledge to allow Hong Kong to maintain a high degree of autonomy for at least 50 years following its handover from the UK. “I feel extremely disappointed [about the law’s passage], which means China did not keep its promise to Hong Kong,” Tsai said in Taipei. Beijing’s “broken promise” also