Huyen (an alias) left Thuy Nguyen District of Hai Phong City in 1996, keeping in mind to follow her dreams to China with a "rich husband", and only to realize later, that her "husband" was a peasant, who gambled all day and treated her like a servant.

Her husband's family took away her first born son, and when she gave birth to her second child, a girl, no one cared for either of them, and this way of life made Huyen returned to Vietnam, according to Vietnam news agency on Monday.

"If I had more information, I would not have done this. Now, my wishes are to see my son," she sobbed.

Vietnam news agency reported that Huyen is among the sad stories of many women who used a marriage broker to marry a foreign man, hoping the marriage would bring them luck, and simaltenously, change their poor lives.

President of Lap Le Commune's Women Union Vu Thi Ngot said since last two years, more than 20 women have returned from such marriages, as their dreams shattered.

Statistics by the General Statistics Office between 2005 and 2008 revealed that some 32,000 Vietnamese women married foreigners mostly Chinese and Korean, are from poor families, jobless or doing agricultural work.

While statistics office of the Republic of Korea shows that the number of Korean men marrying Vietnamese women increased from 134 in 2001 to 5,822 in 2005.

Most of these women come from Mekong River Delta provinces such as Can Tho, An Giang, and Tay Ninh, with the average age of 21 while ten percent of them is was under 18. All of them are living in poor family with low educational level.

Citing the Director of the Gender and Development Research Centre Le Thi Quy, Vietnam news agency reported that Vietnam's laws do not prohibit foreign marriages as the marriage can prove to be a cultural bridge linking Vietnam to other countries.

"Lack of knowledge among Vietnamese women living in rural areas and a lack of adequate regulations on foreign marriages are problems that need to be addressed to tackle the issue," according to Quy.

Among other noted reasons are gender inequality, domestic violence against women and girls, some of young girls are work-shy, desire of wealth so they decide to get marriage with foreigners to have a new life.

Nowadays, in some countries, it is difficult for men to get marriage because of gender inequality and economic problem, leading an increase of the demand of getting marriage with foreigners.

Vietnam is one of destination countries for men who would like to seek for wife.

According to Ho Xuan Huy from the Vietnam International Organisation for Migration (IOM), most foreign marriages are arranged through marriage brokers and these agencies earn their fees by enticing Vietnamese women with false information about their future husbands.

Many women are then forced to become servants for their husbands' families and made to work hard and sometimes even hit, according to a report by the IOM.

This is because, Le Thi Hoang Thanh from the Institute of Legal Science of the Ministry of Justice stressed that Vietnam did not have any systems in place to provide information to citizens who wish to marry foreigners.

"There are also no regulations for the protection of Vietnamese women who choose to settle in their foreign husbands' country, as no agreements have been reached for Vietnamese women's rights abroad," Thanh said.

As the Vietnamese women get marriage with foreigners has become emerging problem, marriage support centres had been set up in 16 cities and provinces across the country.

However, the operation of these centres had not been effective enough, she added.

Quy said that laws needed to be improved for the protection of women so they can enjoy safe and happy marriages, as well as gender equality.

Bernama - February 22, 2010