Mekong Delta women escape from foreign husbands, return home

VietNamNet Bridge – Many women in the Mekong Delta who married men from Taiwan, South Korea, China and other countries with the hopes to change their lives have had to return home.


Mrs. Thi in Vi Thuy district, Hau Giang, brought her 2-year-old daughter to Vietnam after she was attacked by her Korean husband.

Having returned to Vietnam five years ago, Mrs. Lan from the town of Binh Minh, in the southern province of Vinh Long could not forget her terrible time in Korea.

Eight years ago, through a matchmaker, a Korean man chose Lan as his wife. She thought she would be happy with a handsome man, who had a stable job. But everything collapsed when she arrived in Korea.

"The man who had lived with me for months in Vietnam told me that my real husband is his younger brother, a deaf-mute and mentally ill person," said Lan.

Later, she found out that the man she had married was “fake”, who was hired to do so, andwas not the brother of the disabled man.

Locked up in the house, Lan had to accept the circumstance – to be the wife of the handicapped man. 

Her days were more miserable after her father-in-law, who loved Lan as his daughter, died.

"My mother-in-law forced me to sleep with his son-in-law in order to have a grandchild. I was beaten cruelly after I refused," she said.

One day, when nobody was at home, Lan escaped from the house and ran to a nearby police station to ask for help. Finally, she could return home. Lan is still lucky because some Vietnamese women killed themselves in desperation.

Vi Thang Commune, in Vi Thuy district, Hau Giang Province has more than 300 women who married foreign men.

"The number of women who fled home and divorced their foreign husbands has increased significantly, making many problems for the local government,"a local official said.

Local people could not recognize Hoa, a beautiful girl, half of a year after she married a Chinese man.

Hoa was ten years older and very shabby when she returned home. She escaped from her husband’s house and took a month to find way home.

Her dream of having a better life failed because her husband lived in an isolated, underdeveloped area and his family was even poorer than hers.

"Living with my husband’s family for several months, I ate more vegetables than rice. Life was so miserable. I escaped twice and I was successful the second time. If I could not have fled, I would have killed myself," Hoa said.

Diem, a woman in Vi Thang Commune, quit school to go to HCM City to attend a “wife selection” organized by matchmakers for Korean men. She wished to marry a good man to be able to help her poor family.

Since she went to Korea, Diem experienced the worst days in her life. She could not stand the torture and insults of her husband’s family, and Diem fled to Vietnam with her children.

Diem said, due to the gap of culture and language, she did not understand what her husband and his family members said. Thus, conflict occurred very often. The husband always defended his mother and beat Diem. 

Diem fled and returned home to file for divorce.

Mrs. Thanh in Vi Trung commune, of Vi Thuy district, Hau Giang province is luckier as her Korean husband agreed to divorce under the verdict of the family court of Gwanggu after more than four years of marriage. 

Thanh returned to Vietnam to fulfill divorce procedures under Vietnamese law.

"I married him through matchmaking services. In Korea I was often abused and beaten by my husband. I could not bear it so we divorced. Now I just want to find a stable job, save some money to help my parents," Thanh said.

Since 2000, about a dozen Vietnamese women died overseas. Some of them killed themselves and some others were killed by their husbands. Many people successfully fled home but they were mentally ill.

Ten years ago, through the matchmaking service, Mrs. Hang in the town of Kinh Cung in Phung Hiep District, Hau Giang Province was married to a Taiwanese man. After several years living in Taiwan under family violence, she fled home and suffered from mental illness.

"When she left home, she was pretty but when she returned home, she became a mad woman. The expenditures for her treatment was tens time more than the money we received from her husband,” said Hang’s mother.

Mrs. Trang from Thot Not District, Can Tho City also became mentally ill after marrying a foreigner. Fortunately, she was successfully treated later but she could not see her son again.

Trang was married to a widowed man and had a son. However, a very short time after she delivered the baby, her husband asked for sex. Trang could not satisfy him. She suffered from mental crisis. She sought way to back home, and became mentally ill later.

After a long time of treatment in hospital, Trang recovered. However, she was very sad because she could not see her son again.

In late 2014, Mrs. La, 48, fled home to escape from her violent Taiwanese husband, who was 72 years old.

While waiting for fulfilling divorce formalities in her hometown - Chau Thanh A District, Hau Giang province, La was attacked with boiling water and knife by her Taiwanese husband. She did not sue the man as he used to be her husband. The man returned to Taiwan.

A few months later, the man came to Vietnam again and chased after his wife, who was living in Can Tho alone, and murdered her.


Mrs. Vo Thi Minh Phuong, 28, committed suicide with her two children by jumping down from a high-rise apartment in 2012 to escape from her husband’s violence. The photo was provided by the victim’s family.

"My daughter said life in Taiwan was very miserable. She was a vegetarian but she had to work on the hill all day. Her food for the whole week was only 6 pieces of tofu and two cabbages. She was not allowed to watch television," the victim's father recalled.

According to statistics, in 2015, Can Tho had 1,263 women married to foreigners (mainly Taiwanese, Korean and Chinese), an increase of 300 cases from the previous year. 

At the same time, 382 women returned home to perform divorce procedures against their foreign husbands, an increase of 82 cases over the previous year. 

In Hau Giang, 610 women got married to foreign men last year while 172 women returned home for divorce.

An official of the Hau Giang People's Court said that in most cases, the Vietnamese wives unilaterally lodged the divorce. There are many reasons for divorce, such as being abused, mistreated;  language and cultural barrier; infertility, etc.

Khuyen Bui

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