Thu, Jul 22, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Foundation reports Panamanian mother and children in care

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Panamanian TV reports that a Panamanian woman living in Taipei County had been prevented by her Taiwanese husband from leaving their home were not true, the Pearl S. Buck Foundation said yesterday.

The TV reports on Monday claimed that Leticia de la Rosa had developed a mental illness after being mistreated by her husband.

The man reportedly wanted to divorce Rosa but refused to provide alimony or give her custody of their three young children.

Rosa's family in Panama has reportedly launched a fundraising drive to allow Rosa to return to Panama for medical treatment.

The foundation, which assists foreign spouses, said yesterday that Rosa had not been imprisoned by her husband, but that the debt-ridden man was refusing to provide financial and emotional support to her and the children.

It said he was frequently away from home to avoid debt collectors.

"Her husband hasn't provided the family with living expenses over a long period," the foundation said in a press release yesterday.

"Owing to the language barrier and difficulties in finding employment, Rosa has consequently been unable to take care of her children," the statement said.

It said that the family was suffering from malnutrition and that frequently one pot of rice had had to last several days, with soy sauce being the only addition to the dining table.

The foundation said it has been providing financial assistance to the woman and her children since last October.

"Because of the divorce and custody issues, Rosa has not been able to return to Panama," the foundation said. "She is undergoing psychiatric treatment and is suffering from bipolar disorder owing to her extended distress."

intervention

Pai Chien-ru (白倩如), a social worker with the foundation, said that it had asked the Panamanian embassy and Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to intervene.

The Panamanian embassy in Taipei declined to comment on the matter yesterday.

However, a Chinese-language newspaper on Tuesday quoted the Panamanian embassy as saying it had helped Rosa with her problems for five years.

Because of Rosa's failed attempt to gain custody of her children, she had refused to return to Panama, it said.

Taiwan's embassy in Panama said on Tuesday that it would do its utmost to help her return home as soon as possible.

It said in a press statement that the embassy and government agencies would do whatever they could to help Rosa.

Members of Rosa's family were to visit Taiwan's embassy yesterday.

The Pearl S. Buck Foundation lobbies government and welfare organizations to provide more services for foreign spouses and their local partners.

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