The number of non-Taiwanese spouses settling down in this country has increased and foreign wives tend to have a lower level of education and are younger to marry on average than local wives, an official report released yesterday indicated.
The report was presented by and commented upon by Minister of the Interior Yu Cheng-hsien (余政憲) at the Cabinet's weekly meeting yesterday morning. The ministry tailored the survey to identify the needs of welfare programs for non-Taiwanese spouses.
"As of December, a total of 247,966 foreign citizens, composed of 148,098 Chinese nationals and 87,392 other-nationality wives have married Taiwanese and reside on the island," Yu revealed.
The report found that the percentage of newborns mothered by non-Taiwanese has doubled between 1998 and 2002.
Last year, a number of 30,833 citizens, or 12.46 percent of the all newborn babies in this country, were born by their foreign mothers, including women from China, Hong Kong, Macau and other foreign countries, whereas in 1998 only 5.12 percent, or 13,904 persons, were born by non-Taiwanese mothers, according to the minister.
The highest level of eduction obtained by about 40 percent of the foreign wives, either Chinese or other foreign nationals, was junior-high-school level or below compared to 29 percent among Taiwanese wives, the report showed.
The survey meanwhile noted that a significant number of these non-Taiwanese wives married when they were younger than 24 years old.
An overall percentage of 72 among the non-Chinese foreign wives married before aged 24, the report said, adding that up to 30 percent of them married their Taiwanese husbands before the age of 19.
The minister, during the presentation, unveiled working guidelines for improving the non-Taiwanese spouses' well being.
"The welfare policy should be implemented in six ways: to set up consultation services to help foreign spouses get used to life in this country; to provide health services; to safeguard labor rights; to help them upgrade their levels of education and cultural understanding; to protect their personal security and to offer complete legal protection for all non-Taiwanese spouses," he said.
Yu meanwhile proposed a governmental budgetary increase in order to carry out an all-out welfare policy to the foreign mates.
Official statistics about the divorce rate, the crime rate and the prevalence of domestic violence related to non-Taiwanese spouses should be filed to give future policy makers more background information, the minister advised.
Educating members of society to treat foreign spouses equally is important, too, Yu said. He said that the attainment would help Taiwan improve its human rights image.
The minister voiced his desire to establish to a new government agency in charge of monitoring illegal scams carried out in the name of multi-national marriages.