Recently, a petition with the title 'I hope the government stops the financial aid for men’s marriage in the countryside' was uploaded onto the bulletin board of the Blue House.
This is because some local governments have been financially supporting men who are thinking about international marriage.
People who oppose this policy argue that the men are buying women to marry and that this violate women's right. 12,400 people have so far participated in the petition.
It has been 20 years since the Korean government started encouraging men in the countryside to marry internationally. As a result of that, men in the countryside started getting married with women from poor families in China and Southeast Asia.
▲ Photo courtesy Okaybuild
Recently, the number of men living in the countryside has been declining, but still several local governments are providing 5 million won in international marriage support for men who have lived in the village from one to three years who are between 35 to 50 years old.
In the petition, it says, “Men’s marriage in the countryside is nicely decorated in the name of international marriage, but it is a type of human trafficking.” And “How can this human trafficking be promoted nationwide in the 21st century?, Some men treat the foreign brides as objects because they purchased them. This means that violence against them is still happening.”
According to the Migrant Women's Human Rights Center in South Korea, a migrant woman from Vietnam was killed by her father-in-law in June. She is a person who shouted at a press conference, "I can be the next victim," after a Vietnamese migrant woman was murdered by her husband seven years ago in Busan.
Another issue is that, women in the countryside wonder why the policy to support international marriage financially benefits only men. One woman living as a farmer said, “Instead of resolving the fundamental problem of the rural area and ignoring the tiredness on female farmers, most of policies are aimed only at men in the countryside.
Why does the local government have to implement this policy?
▲ Photo courtesy Starshadow
The local government said that getting a foreign bride is the only option for men in the countryside in order to help them to get married and maintain the population of the village.
A local government official said, "Since Korean women avoid coming to the countryside, many men in the countryside have a hard time finding wives. For men, marriage is critical.” and “We also think that people would treat the policy as a type of purchasing marriage so we don’t support couples who have 20 years age gap.”
He added, “if you call the policy a purchasing marriage, couples who get married by the policy will get hurted.” and “We as a local government, provide a program to teach Korean language and culture.”
Some local governments have extended financial aid to women in the countryside.
Yeongdong County in North Chungcheong Province has changed the criteria from that mentioned above to people aged 20 to 50 regardless of their gender.
By eliminating the gender discrimination debate, they hope it will be interpreted as a policy to help people get married in order to increase birth rate.
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