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Authorities in Australia clamp down on marriage abuses

 

Thursday 27th January 2011 8:55pm

Australian government assists Thai Brides

The Australian authorities have stepped up efforts to stamp out abuses and problems stemming from the increased numbers of Aussie men seeking Thai brides.

Every year thousands of Australian men travel to Thailand to find a wife. The number of spousal visa applications to the Australian government has increased by over 50% in the last decade, many of them Thai brides immigrating to Australia, and has now reached record levels with over 40,000 applications each year. 'It's really becoming popular, many of my friends have married girls from Thailand, so I'm checking it out, if it works great, if not, I'm going to have a good holiday,' said one 28 year old Aussie before his flight to Bangkok in July 2010 to search for a wife in Thailand.

Over the last two decades the Thai community in Australia has exploded with the influx of Thai women coming to Australia primarily as Thai brides. In line with this, strong Thai communities have spring up in all key Australian cities such as Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Alongside this positive story, however problems have arisen as the trend has spawned abuses which has resulted in Thai women being exploited either by unscrupulous individuals luring them into the prostitution industry or other instances where the Australian men have been duped into marrying ex prostitutes by third parties with links to organised crime and the vice industry. 'Many promise to find a wife of good repute for Aussies who simply can't be bothered to try to do it themselves, it's the classic opportunity for con men,' said one Australian official in an interview.

The Australian authorities have responded with upgraded immigration processes, rigorous law enforcement and increased social services, many targeted at vulnerable Thai women. While the vast majority of Thai brides experience a positive improvement in their lifestyle, some, particularly those with little or no English or limited education can find themselves marginalized or isolated.

A Thai bride in Perth was recently reported missing by her Australian husband some months after giving birth to a baby in the city. Police located the Thai mother of three, 22 years old Sawai Jityen after friends informed them that the young mother, who spoke little English was seeking refuge in a shelter. Friends said that Sawai spoke 'little or no English' and was very trusting with others. The young mother later expressed a preference to return to Thailand with her three children.

The Thai government is well aware of the economic benefits that the growing number of Thai women marrying foreigners brings to the country but has also recently established units throughout the world in its diplomatic service to assist Thai brides who find themselves abandoned or need of care in foreign countries. This comes as distressing stories have emerged in Australia, the United States and in countries in Europe of Thai women who have been abused by third parties or even by the very people who promised to care for them.

This is particularly distressing as it emerges that girls from Thailand are predominantly sincere when seeking to marry foreigners in an effort to better their lives, that of their family in Thailand and even that of their new life partners or husbands. Organizers of a recent media survey in Melbourne where over 30 Thai women were interviewed about ante natal care provided to the women were struck to find that the majority of the Thai women were more concerned about the well being of their babies than their own personal heath care. The survey found that the Thai mothers suffered from a lack of information about their health needs and faced a language barrier. While the majority of Thai women expressed a view that the health care in Australian was better than in Thailand, those who had a positive experience in Thailand were more negative towards the Australian experience.

The Thai government has even identified some foreign men who have visited Thailand to find a wife on multiple occasions which have ultimately led to serial abusive relationships. In an Australian court recently, a Thai bride of ten years was awarded 75% of her husband's property after the judge found that her overweight husband was a 'bully' who had subjected her to a life of servitude for 10 years. The court heard that the 64 year old had brought her to Australia from Thailand as his sixth wife and that she spoke no English. The man was so obese that he could scarcely leave his bed and his Thai bride was forced to attend to his personal needs as well as working a market garden and household chores. The judge described some of the tasks which the Thai woman has to perform as 'disgusting' including attending to her Aussie husbands bleeding buttocks.

The Australian authorities have also have also upgraded and streamlined immigration processes to deal with residency applications by Thai brides or Thai life partners of Australian men. In a TV documentary dealing with marriage abuse, Sandi Logan of the Australian Department of Immigration insisted that the authorities are now satisfied that their two stage adjudication process for permanent residency seekers was effective in deterring scammers taking advantage of Australian men and women seeking life partners from foreign countries.

Under the Australian residency system, all Thai women coming to Australia as spouses are given two years in which they are expected to live with their Australian partners and during that period they may be tested on the truthfulness of their story by special bona fide units set up by the Australian government. However, it has emerged that only 3% of cases are tested under this system.

Mr. Forsyth's Thai bride claims that the marriage was genuine but that it simply broke down. 'I love him and him love me, I don't tell him he have to marry me, no, nothing,' she said.

'The Department, other independent organisations and agencies including the Commonwealth ombudsman have all looked at the claims that he (Mr. Forsyth) has made and there has been no substantiation and no evidence to support the suggestion that there has been a marriage scam or fraud,' said Sandi Logan of the Department of Immigration.

Despite this controversy, Australians continue to travel to Thailand in increasing numbers often to find a wife or a Life Partner while girls from Thailand increasingly use the internet and Thai dating sites to find love down under. One expert recommends the following advice to Thai women seeking love in Australia:

  • Arrange for your Australian boyfriend or future husband to meet your family and some official within your community before traveling to Australia.
  • Make yourself known to Health and Social services in Australia on arrival even if there is a language barrier. Many Australian services now have made arrangements to deal with such situations. Your partner should also be able to assist.
  • Never travel to Australia unless your immigration status is clarified and in order.
  • On arrival in Australia, register with the Thai embassy or local consulate. Make your self familiar with embassy or consular contact information before you travel.

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Thai Brides in Australia can now benefit from streamlined procedures introduced by the Australian government
Some Thai Brides face challenges in Australia. The Australian government has introduced streamlined procedures to clamp down on abuse and assist Thai women as more and more Australian men travel to Thailand to find a wife.
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