Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Vietnamese "brides" parade for lonely Malaysians

Lonely Malaysian men used to travel to Vietnam to shop for "mail order" brides. Now, to the disgust of women's groups, the brides come to them.

Dozens of young Vietnamese girls are paraded at coffee shops in Malaysian towns for prospective grooms to view, in trips arranged by Malaysian agents, the Star newspaper said on Tuesday.

The girls are looking for a better life and their poor families each receive dowries of 20,000 to 30,000 ringgit ($5,600 and $8,500), depending on a girl's beauty, said Malaysian politician Michael Chong, who deplored the new practice.

The men were mainly rich singles or divorcees, Chong told the Star, adding that they would previously have chosen Vietnamese brides from photos and flown to Vietnam to fetch them.

Women's rights groups were appalled at the new trend.

"This practice can be classified as an extreme form of sexual slavery conducted under a sham legal framework," Maria Chin Abdullah, head of a Malaysian women's group, told the newspaper.

Copyright © 2006 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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