No Prospective Date for End of Marriage Ban

Cambodians haven’t been al­lowed to officially marry foreigners for five months now—since a temporary ban was imposed March 29—and a date for when they will again be able to do so is still unforeseen, officials said Wednesday.

Ministry of Women’s Affairs Secretary of State You Ay, who heads the anti-human trafficking task force, said at a meeting that the much-anticipated draft subdecree on foreigner-Cambodian marriages still needs work.

You Ay said the ministry is awaiting feedback from several ministries and is hoping the draft will be finalized soon, though she de­clined to name a date.

“There has been no delay. This is a temporary ban because we have a problem,” she said after the meeting.

The ban was imposed following an International Organization for Migration report highlighting the vulnerability of Cambodian brides who were flocking to South Korea in increasing numbers, often through unregulated brokerage agencies.

John McGeoghan, IOM project coordinator, said by telephone after the meeting that it is encouraging to see the government taking the time to ensure that the new legislation is given a “careful and considered analysis.”

“[W]here there is money to be made from the marriages, there is some inclination not to tell the whole truth and to get it done quick­ly just to make a quick buck,” Mc­Geoghan said of marriage brokers.

“Nobody should be able to tell someone who they can and cannot marry,” he said. “But this is a new market…and we need to make sure the women who put them­selves at risk have all the information.”

You Ay said at the meeting that the subdecree will prohibit all marriages brokered for profit through third parties.

“Even if the marriage is brokered by a visiting relative, if they take money for the marriages, they are considered middlemen,” she said. “We also require expatriates who do not permanently live in Cambodia to come for visits longer than five or six days…. They need to understand each other, then they can get engaged.”

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