Curb stigma against foreign brides

Singapore is a multinational and multicultural country. We boast citizens of different ethnicities, and our country is also unrivalled as an international hub for businesses around the world.

Despite such diversity, we still fall prey to common prejudices.

A point of contention lies with marriages where the bride is a foreigner.

Such pairings are stigmatised and the female spouse is often presumed to be a mail-order bride, especially if she comes from a neighbouring South-east Asian country.

The prevalence of mail-order brides is increasing in Singapore and is especially popular among bachelors who are older or less well-to-do ("More S'poreans taking foreign brides"; Dec 22, 2013).

This has sometimes led to unsavoury situations, such as the recent case where two Vietnamese women were jailed for aiding their compatriot in entering a marriage of convenience to obtain a long-term visit pass ("2 Vietnamese women jailed for setting up sham marriage for compatriot"; ST Online, May 6).

Efforts should be made by the Government to help curtail the stigma against foreign brides.

In fact, the industry of mail-order brides in Singapore should be eliminated or reduced to a less commercial practice.

Singapore faces challenges in sustaining its population as more people get married at an older age.

By popularising and normalising the practice of taking foreign brides, there will be less discrimination against them. This will also spur a growth in Singapore's population.

Much has been said about the hardships families with foreign brides face, especially when it comes to raising their children.

Most of these brides are unable to obtain permanent residency, which restricts their employment options.

There are also language and cultural barriers.

Perhaps more can be done to help these couples succeed.

Glenn Foh Cher Ren

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 13, 2016, with the headline 'Curb stigma against foreign brides'. Print Edition | Subscribe