Abuse of Vietnamese Wives


It’s Time to Better Protect Foreign Spouses

It is a national shame that foreign wives living with Koreans have suffered spousal abuse. This issue surfaced again on Tuesday when Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet asked the South Korean government to help Vietnamese married to Korean men lead better lives here. Triet made the request when he accepted the credentials of Im Hong-jae, the newly appointed Korean Ambassador to Hanoi.

Pham The Duyet, president of the Vietnam Fatherland Front, also made a similar request. He told Im that South Korea should pay more attention to the Vietnamese immigrants so that they can better integrate into Korean society. There is no doubt that the Vietnamese leadership is concerned about the alleged abuse of Vietnamese women by their Korean husbands. The Southeast Asian country has been hit by media reports that Vietnamese wives are the victims of various kinds of spousal abuse.

A horrible case in Daejeon in July involved a 19-year-old Vietnamese woman who reportedly died after being violently beaten by her husband. In another case, a Vietnamese woman entered into a marriage with a Korean man who only wanted her to give birth to a baby. The man divorced her and took the baby to reunite with his infertile ex-wife. Some people fear that such incidents could harm diplomatic relations between Seoul and Hanoi.

The abuse of foreign wives is not confined to women from Vietnam. Many foreign women getting married to Koreans in search of the “Korean dream” confront the stark reality of domestic violence, verbal abuse and discrimination in Korean society. Some of them even fall prey to human trafficking. An annual U.S. report on human trafficking showed that a growing number of foreigners are trafficked to South Korea for sexual or labor exploitation though brokered marriages. The report carried a photograph of a roadside billboard advertising an international marriage broker who promises to offer Vietnamese brides who would not run away. This indicates how serious the human trafficking issue is in the country.

Cases related to Vietnamese women have drawn much attention because their numbers are rapidly growing. The number of Chinese women married to Koreans last year was estimated at 14,450. But most of them are ethnic Koreans from China’s northeastern provinces. The number of Vietnamese wives stood at 9,812. Thus, Vietnamese women have actually emerged as the largest foreign wives’ group in South Korea. The number of women from the Philippines and Mongolia reached 1,131 and 559, respectively.

The Seoul government has worked out policy packages to protect the rights of foreign spouses and help them adapt to Korean society. However, such steps have yet to produce any remarkable results. A Seoul National University survey showed that one out of every 10 foreign spouses has suffered domestic violence, while three out of every 10 has experienced verbal abuse.

Policymakers should take more fundamental measures to ensure foreign wives’ human rights and crack down on domestic violence and other types of spousal abuse. South Koreans will also have to warmly embrace not only foreign brides but also migrant workers as our society increasingly moves toward globalization and multiculturalism.


Vietnam grants amnesty to prisoners


Vietnam will release more than 8,000 prisoners as part of a regular presidential amnesty, officials said on Tuesday.

Those to be released include 13 foreigners convicted of various crimes, including drug trafficking, human trafficking and fraud.

Among them were eight Chinese citizens, two Singaporeans, one Laotian, one Malaysian and one Cambodian.

President Nguyen Minh Triet also granted amnesty to 11 unidentified Vietnamese citizens convicted of unspecified national security crimes.

In all, Triet approved the release of 8,066 inmates, said Giang Son, deputy head of the President’s Office.

They will be freed over the next two days.

”Vietnam’s policy toward criminals is a combination of severe punishment and leniency,” he said. ”The purpose of sentences is not only to punish criminals, but also to reform them to become useful citizens.”

Some 80,000 inmates have been released early under presidential amnesties since 2000, and 4.2 percent of them committed more crimes, said Vice Minister of Public Security Le The Tiem.

Vietnam Enacts Motorbike Helmet Law

IT will be interesting to see the adoption of helmets in Vietnam- when I was little and bicycle helmets became laws, it wasn’t popular especially in the fashion stakes but after time, and money spent on promotion of the safety aspect in wearing a helmet – particular the fact that it will save lives – and – it will hit your hip pockets if you don’t, it became the norm. Hopefully this will be the case for Vietnam as well.

Vietnam Enacts Motorbike Helmet Law

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — The head trauma ward at Viet Duc Hospital in Vietnam’s capital is so crammed with beds, they line both sides of the room and spill out in the hallway. All are filled with unconscious patients with head injuries — motorcyclists who crashed with no helmets.

Vietnam has one of the world’s highest traffic fatality rates, with nearly 13,000 deaths recorded last year alone — the majority involving the ubiquitous motorbike. Few people bother with helmets, saying they are hot, bulky and unfashionable. But as of Dec. 15, everyone will be required to don the so-called “rice cookers” as the government enforces a new law intended to save lives.

The Health Ministry kicked off a traffic safety campaign Wednesday to raise awareness before the new rules take effect.

“It’s not only the deaths, it’s the tens of thousands of injuries. Some people become like vegetables,” said Jean-Marc Olive, World Health Organization representative in Vietnam. “Also what is quite sad is that the major proportion of accidents occur in young adults.”

More than 20 million motorbikes cram Vietnam’s busy streets on an average day, and their numbers are growing as the country becomes wealthier. The roads are also some of the most hazardous on earth. Few drivers look before pulling into traffic. Speeding, weaving, underage driving and drunk driving are common.

Vietnam’s traffic fatality rate is about 27 per 100,000 — nearly double that of the United States and among the highest in the world, according to WHO.

But those statistics mean little to most motorbike commuters in Hanoi.

“It is an unenforceable law. Wearing helmets in cities is ridiculous,” said Nguyen Tung Anh, 21, a student in Hanoi. “It will reduce drivers’ vision, hearing and it is not suitable for the weather conditions here.”

For those who need more convincing, Dr. Vu Hong Phong says perhaps a visit to Viet Duc Hospital would work. As the chief neurosurgeon there, he races in and out of surgery every day trying to salvage what’s left of motorcyclists who slam their heads onto the pavement without helmets.

“The problem is getting worse and worse,” Phong said. “The number of deaths I’ve seen over the past several years has increased too much and I feel very sad about that.”

He lectures surviving patients and their families about the importance of wearing helmets but said his advice is heeded only about half the time, even among those who narrowly escape death.

In the head trauma ward, blood fills cotton stuffed into patients’ ears as loved ones massage limp arms and legs. Some victims thrash in pain, their arms and legs tied to bed rails. Others lie still, their heads swollen and bruised. Tubes and machines keep them alive.

“He is in a coma and there is blood on his brain,” said Dang Thi Tu, standing over her 21-year-old son, Cong. He was driving home from a wedding when he hit a rock in the road and lost control of his bike. She wishes now that his head had been protected.

“He was only a few kilometers from home, and he didn’t wear a helmet.”

Currently, helmets are only required on highways outside cities where fines the equivalent of $1.25 are levied on violators. All government employees have also been required to wear helmets since last month.

Government officials are discussing whether to raise the fine when the new law kicks in. Helmets must also be certified with a stamp verifying they meet Vietnamese safety standards.

But enforcement will be tough. When Vietnam tried to impose a helmet law in 2001, angry drivers protested and the government backed down. Some say they will only abide this time if forced.

“I cannot imagine myself wearing trendy clothes together with a helmet,” said Le Tra My, 18, who was shopping for hats at an upscale store in Hanoi. “It will look awful.”