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Gov't mulls ending ban on foreign marriages

A ban on marriages between Cambodians and foreigners could soon end, Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng has said, as a meeting of top government officials got underway to discuss legislation that would allow these unions to resume.

The ban was enacted in April amid concerns that thousands of often poor and uneducated Cambodian women were being married off by brokers to foreign men, making them more vulnerable to trafficking.

"Trafficking has many faces ... therefore, we closed all of those marriage brokers," Sar Kheng said on June 4.

He was speaking at the release of the US State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons study, which this year upgraded Cambodia to Tier 2, the middle of three tiers which indicates that the country's is making efforts to address its trafficking problem.

Concern was sparked earlier this year by reports that the number of Cambodian brides going to South Korea has risen from just 72 in 2004 to more than 1,700 last year.

Large numbers of Cambodian women were also marrying Taiwanese men through brokers in Cambodia, many of which are unregulated.

"We cannot suspend [marriages] for a long time, or forever because it contradicts the Cambodian constitution and is discriminatory," Sar Kheng said.

"I will lead a meeting to draft a sub-decree [Friday] at the Ministry of Interior to end the suspension," he added. (Nguon Sovan)

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