“Making a voice for the voices….”
Before you start to listen to my voice, I want to thank all of you who chose to spend her precious time to actually listen what I am trying to say. I guarantee, that your decision of listening to the voice would change what you have never thought of before.
Well, even before that, please turn on the TV nearby, and watch the news channel for a while. What do you see? What can you hear? What is catching your attention? Isn’t there a news about abortion, teen pregnancy, modern life stresses, sexual abuse trials? The news about how women all around the world are mistreated. Yes, my voice is for women who are suffering from those kind of miseries. But specifically, women who are going through all of those news at once.
In today’s world, female teen suicidal is increasing in every moment, due to those news that I’ve just mentioned. Try to imagine one of those news happened in your life. Pretty harsh, isn’t it? It would be painful for you to go through this and get over with, whether your family, friends and loving ones are around you, helping you to get through that. Unfortunately, the Vietnamese women, who are married by international marriage in South Korea, are going through all kinds of miseries that the female can face, alone, left in foreign country.
To briefly inform about the international marriage service in Vietnam and Korea, a man who is in his 30s-50s usually, joins the service group and pick a Vietnamese lady he likes from the ‘options.’ The chosen lady packs her things and flies to Korea, and gets married to the man, since she had a contract with the service. So far, this type of ‘marriage’ may sound more of a purchase than the actual meaning of the marriage we use in our society, but it does not say that they are in misery. However, when we observe the system precisely, it comes clear this type of marriage is illegal. First, the female in this marriage loses her will of marriage, right after she signs on the contract. Second, this marriage is not by relation between two of them, but actually by the choice of the man who pays to the service. This does not seem different from purchasing a slave, is it? Thus, these women who joined the service, usually joined the service because their families did not have money to prepare for traditional marriage in Vietnam, or in extreme poverty, where they had to sell their daughters out to the service for their living. Besides, they are just over teenage, and the grooms are usually in their 30s-50s. Now when we put ourselves into their shoes, this marriage comes very unfaithful and injustice for the bride side. And this is not the end of the story.
My cousin has a Vietnamese friend named Lien, who got married to a Korean man, but by her own will. She’s 33 years old, and she works for the institute that is helping out the foreigners, especially the women who are abused in their international marriage. When I first asked her if her life in Korea is difficult, she first hesitated to tell, but told me that the past 8 years were like the trials. She said the motivation of her job now is from her experience where she had so many problems with language, culture, and people. According to her story, she had to face people’s prejudice on her background, her marriage, her husband, which affected her to carry her life in Korea. She said living every moment in such trial was so hard, but she could get through this with her husband. Lien then explained how international marriage abuse is going on. Mostly, the young girls come to get married, and since they are alone, and not even used to language, often mistreated from the their marriage. In worse cases, they are once again sold as a sex slaves in countryside, or even captured after running away, and put on the organ market lists. Lien also added that some of the victims hesitate to visit the institute, because they are in fear that they might get caught and end up dead. Over 62% of them have had/ have depressing or trust issues, and answered that they want to kill themselves if they cannot go back home. Wouldn’t it be hopeless for you when you are lost and abused in foreign country, alone?
On the other hand, can we say we are completely irrelevant from this issue, such a miserable marriage happening out there? No, we are not. In some point, not just the spouses of this marriage, but we also have a part of the abusing , in a social aspect. Now don’t get me wrong, but our society do have prejudice on the foreigners who are not white. This prejudice applies especially on the foreigners from the developing country, where they are weak in the society. For example, there was a experiment by EBS(Social work broadcasting center), where they put American and the Malaysian in the middle of the street, to pretend that they are lost while traveling, and have a map in their hands. What would you do when you face the lost tourist on the street? Do you think you’d be fair to them? The result of this experiment was pretty shocking, because 6 people out of 10 completely ignored the Malaysian man, and 10/10 of another group helped the American man. Moreover, the 4 of those 10 who helped American man, asked them if they need help even before the man asked them. None of these happened in Malaysian man’s case. Of Course, we cannot assume wholly from this, but it does have a point that our society has a prejudice on such groups of people. There are 15,000 international marriage happening every day, and maybe we are pressuring the victims of international marriage with our prejudice, when they are alone, lost in the unusual culture.
And now, dear listeners, what could we do about the marriage? We have to admit that we cannot stop the marriage service, or the brides’ families, or the men who joins the service. As matter of fact, there are few things we can do for those women. We are the women who are in age of themselves, their sisters, friends, and a mother. We know how it feels like to be alone when we are alone, or pregnant, or mistreated by men. What we can do, therefore, is to just simply look around, to turn around. By the meaning of turn around, is not only that we could put ourselves into their shoes, but also to reduce our prejudice in social. If we carefully observe, we will easily notice that there are foreign women who are going to this kind of misery. Before we think of their background, or walk away, take just a bit of time to actually care. Questions like “How was your day?” might help them to find hope in their life in Korea, though they might not be good at speaking. It will also give then intention that there are always way to ask for a help, and motivate them to try learning about the culture, which makes them adjust in the society easier.
I believe that we could change this type of misery all together; if we pay more attention on the international marriage issue, reduce our prejudice on their cultural backgrounds, but care more of how they would feel lost in the forced marriage in unfamiliar country.