Tue, Sep 06, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Erstwhile prostitute prevented from joining husband

DPA , TAIPEI

A Taiwanese man whose Chinese wife is not able to join him in Taiwan because of her background as a prostitute asked President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) on Sunday to intervene -- or else find him a new wife.

"Immigration authorities have barred her from coming to Taiwan because she was a prostitute. They told me to marry a decent woman. Who is decent? Should I marry President Chen?" Chou Hsien-chieh (周賢傑) asked in an interview with TV channel CTI.

"I am pleading with authorities to allow my wife to join me, otherwise President Chen must find me a wife," he said.

Chou, 53, a grocery-store owner from Kaohsiung, met Lan Lianhua (藍連花), 23, when he visited a brothel in April last year.

Lan had entered the country to join her then husband, but ended up separating from him and working as a prostitute. When Chou said he wanted to marry her, Lan turned herself in to police -- only to be deported to China.

The couple married at Lan's home in Guangdong Province last October.

Since then, Chou has tried unsuccessfully to have Lan join him in Taiwan. Police and immigration authorities suspect that Lan is "after his money," or that Lan will want to work as a prostitute once again.

"This is discrimination against mainland brides," Chou said.

Since the 1980s, around 154,000 Taiwanese men have married women of Chinese nationality.

To prevent immigrants from exploiting phony marriages, the Bureau of Entry and Exit screens potential brides on arrival.

Human-rights groups have condemned the screening as a violation of human rights.

But the government insists it is necessary on national-security grounds.

Steven Wu (吳學雁), the deputy commissioner of the National Police Agency's Immigration Office, yesterday said that Lan's application was rejected because the activities in which she engaged did not comply with the purpose stated on her visa application.

"The purpose of her visa application was to reunite with her husband. In accordance with the regulations, mainland spouses are not allowed to work in Taiwan at this stage as they are yet to obtain their identity cards," Wu said.

"Not only did [Lan] violate the regulations, the work she was engaged in while in Taiwan -- prostitution -- is illegal," Wu said. Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan

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