Sun, Nov 07, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Vietnamese bride hopefuls ordered to leave the country

AFP , TAIPEI

Police have ordered four Vietnamese women to leave Taiwan after a matchmaking agency paraded them across the country in a tour to marry them off for thousands of dollars, a police officer said yesterday.

The women had violated immigration laws and have been given until Wednesday to leave the country, a police officer on Penghu island said. The agency was also being investigated for trade in humans.

Penghu has the nation's highest rate of marriage between Taiwanese and foreigners and was one of the stops in the women's tour, reports said.

"These women applied for tourist visas and it's against the immigration regulations for them to engage in activities other than sightseeing," the police officer said.

"It's also against the law if match-makers were peddling these women like commodities," he told AFP.

Local newspapers have reported that a marriage agency based in central Chiayi county had been "parading" the women across the island in a search of Taiwanese husbands.

The agency reportedly presented them to a packed crowd outside a temple in Chiayi saying they were available for marriage for a fee of NT$300,000 Taiwan dollars (US$9,000).

The women were later shown off at a temple on Penghu, the reports said.

Two Taiwanese men had reportedly shown interest in taking the Vietnamese as brides but changed their minds after learning the women were ordered to leave.

Police are investigating if the matchmaking agency was involved in trade in humans, a crime punishable by a minimum five-year prison sentence and a fine of up to NT$500,000.

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