Marriage Ban Will Be Lifted With Provisions

The government’s ban on foreigners marrying Cambodians will soon be lifted though safeguards will be implemented to prevent exploitation of Cambodian spouses, the Interior Ministry said on June 6.

Foreigners will now have to provide documentation on their criminal, financial and employment backgrounds to the government, and foreigners wishing to marry a Cambodian must apply for marriage licenses themselves and not through brokers, Interior Ministry Lieutenant General spokesman Khieu Sopheak said.

“It will not be 100 percent effective and perfect in eliminating hu­man trafficking,” he said. “But it will be much better in helping Cam­bodian brides from the risk of labor or sexual exploitation,” he said.

The ban will be lifted when the Interior Ministry, the Foreign Min­istry and the Council of Ministers approve the subdecree, he said.

The ban instituted May 29 followed a report from International Organization for Migration highlighting the vulnerability of Cambodian brides who immigrate to marry South Korean husbands. Though the report did not find systematic abuses it did find some cases of exploitation.

John McGeoghan, project coordinator for IOM, said the changes, if properly implemented, will better inform brides of their prospective husbands.

“[Marriage brokers] have been trying get these brides married as quickly as possible and there has been a tendency to exaggerate the status of grooms,” he said, adding that brides are sometimes lied to.

As many brides in these cases are illiterate or semi-illiterate, McGeoghan said the government needs to provide assistance so women are aware of the information that is available.

Nop Sarin Sreiroth, secretary general for the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center, said she supported the new regulations but strict enforcement is necessary and the government needs to stay alert on the issue.

“Some bad people will use other strategies for fake marriages,” she said.

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