People First Party Legislator Chang Show-foong (張曉風) yesterday caused an uproar and drew criticism from civic groups over her remarks that the government should provide aid to women “who should have married, but have not,” and that men should marry local women instead of foreigners.
“There are many excellent women who should have married, but have not; they have been abandoned by Taiwanese men,” Chang said during a question-and-answer session at a meeting of the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee. “This could lead to a great loss for the nation.”
Chang, a noted essayist, also said that instead of marrying local women, many men choose to marry foreign women, “but it’s biologically more normal for people to choose their spouse within the country.”
“I don’t know what happened to the male creatures in this country that they must find female creatures abroad to marry,” Chang, 71, said. “Maybe it’s because foreign brides are easier to control and they don’t even make a sound when they are beaten.”
Ministry of the Interior officials were quick to disagree with Chang.
“We do try to help those who want to get married to find partners by organizing social events, but in this country everyone is free to choose whether they want to get married or not,” Children’s Welfare Bureau director-general Chang Hsiu-yuan (張秀鴛) said. “I think international marriages are a trend.”
Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) echoed Chang Hsiu-yuan, saying that many Taiwanese men married women from Southeast Asia because they are from economically and socially disadvantaged backgrounds and they find it difficult to find spouses within the country.
“The ministry does everything it can to promote marriage,” he said.
Chang Show-foong’s remarks also drew fire from civic groups.
“I was shocked to hear what she [Chang] said,” said Lorna Kung (龔尤倩), a supervisor of the Taiwan International Family Association. “Apparently, Chang Show-foong knows nothing about international families.”
Kung said that most people who marry foreigners do so out of choice, not necessity, and that all marriages are based on different reasons.
“It’s a fact that most Taiwanese men who marry women from Southeast Asia are from a more disadvantaged social or economic background, and such couples are already targets of discrimination,” Kung said. “Chang Show-foong’s remarks only fuel such discrimination — and I regret to hear that.”
Gender/Sexuality Rights Association Taiwan secretary-general Wang Ping (王蘋) said the increasing number of unmarried women was a sign that Taiwanese women are becoming more independent, adding that Chang Show-foong’s remarks were inappropriate.
“In the past, women’s only objective in life was to get married, which made them dependent on their families, but the situation has changed,” Wang said. “Women nowadays have become more economically independent — they have started to consider whether marriage is necessary. Some want to make different choices, and that’s not a bad thing.”
Wang said some women want to get married, but cannot find a suitable spouse.
“That is also a sign that women are more free and independent,” Wang said.