Police in Vietnam have repeatedly raided events in recent years at which shadowy brokers have paraded 100 or more young women before potential suitors, often South Koreans and Taiwanese on short “marriage holidays.”

Legalizing and regulating the sector would help protect Vietnamese women from domestic abuse, the government said on its official Web site.

Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem has ordered agencies to create a plan for Vietnam’s first accredited international matchmaking service in Ho Chi Minh City and submit it to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung by June, it said.

In recent years, the number of illegal marriage brokers has increased, drawing mostly on young women from the poor southern Mekong delta.

There have been several reports of maltreatment of Vietnamese wives by their new husbands in South Korea and Taiwan, societies that have more men than women because of widespread cultural preferences for male offspring.

In a raid last November, police detained seven South Korean men, two Vietnamese brokers and 161 local women in a rented house in Ho Chi Minh City.

South Korea last June launched a crackdown on matchmaking agencies that use racial stereotypes or distorted information, seeking to regulate a trend that has led to cases of spousal abuse, divorces and some suicides.

Seoul also started a program to help foreign brides better settle in South Korea, where authorities said 11 percent of marriages were interracial last year — a rate that reached 40 percent among farmers and fishermen.

Khiem also asked Vietnam’s embassies abroad to take “measures to protect the legitimate rights and benefits of Vietnamese citizens in their marriage.”

Agence France Presse - January 10, 2009

Vietnam state to run bride agency

Vietnam says it is planning to set up an official matchmaking agency to arrange marriages between Vietnamese women and foreign men.

The authorities say they want to regulate the sector, which they say is currently run by illegal groups.

Police have targeted events in recent years where dozens of women from poor backgrounds, seeking a better life, are paraded before potential suitors.

The men are often on short "marriage holidays" from South Korea and Taiwan.

Correspondents say that overseas marriage is seen by some women in Vietnam as a route out of poverty and the practice is widespread in some rural areas.

But many women fall foul of unscrupulous brokers and are sold into prostitution, while others are forced into marriages they do not want.

Vietnamese officials have now been told to make plans for a state-controlled matchmaking firm based in Ho Chi Minh City.

The government says it hopes the plan will help prevent the abuse of Vietnamese women by criminal organisations, or by their new husbands.

BBC News - january 8, 2009