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Italian starts petition to end ban on foreign marriages

An Italian man has launched a petition against the government’s ban on marriages between foreigners and Cambodians, describing the March decision to halt such unions as “unacceptable.”

The petition, advertised in the Cambodia Daily on May 1, was organized by Stefano Magistretti after the ban left eight months of planning for his wedding in disarray.

“I flew to Bangkok to get permission from the Italian embassy on March 26 and my wife gave everything to her sangkat on the 27th , and on the 29th the bloody government shut the door,” Magistretti told the Post.

“At that point I decided to raise a little hell,” added the social researcher from Milan who met his bride-to-be a year after settling in Cambodia in 2003.

The advertisement urges Khmer-foreign couples to sign the petition, which will be sent to government agencies and Western embassies.

“We’ve had enough of faceless officials’ whims and diplomatic inaction,” reads the advertisement. “But there is something we can do.”

The ban was introduced after a report by the International Organization for Migration revealed a massive rise in the number of poor, uneducated Khmer women marrying foreign men – especially South Koreans.

The government’s anti-trafficking task force met April 29 to discuss the issue but did not indicate what action it will take.

Magistretti said he recognizes marriages with foreigners must be regulated to guard against exploitation, but argues that a blanket ban is unnecessary.

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