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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Role Replaced: Unmarried Taiwanese Women and the Foreign Brides


According to the official statistics in Taiwan, among the registered marriages between 2001 and 2006, 22.25 percent are the so called cross- border marriages, which are composed of Taiwanese grooms: mostly uneducated, low-waged, less-attractive candidates in local marriage market, and their foreign brides: young, docile, alleged to be virgin, coming from China and south-east Asia. The status of marriage migrant is subordinated and tottering: they are depicted as immoral women who marry for money; their visa kidnapped by their marriages; their fertility controlled by the government, and their bodies undergo 54,000 cases of reported domestic violence per year. The hyper-mobility and free trade that globalization has brought appears to offer women from developing counties a new business: trading themselves for a delusion promised by intermediary agents and the clash of dreams that shortly follows.

In contrast, in 2006, about 65 percent of Taiwanese women, in their age between 25 to 29, choose to remain single. Women in Taiwan are responsible for 48.7 percent of the work force. Despite the economic independence and autonomy they are gaining, Taiwanese women are accused of failing to fulfill the obligation originally assigned. While they are allowed the liberty to refuse marital contract, their betrayal remains unforgivable.

This paper will scrutinize the commodified marriage in Taiwan, in the perspective of the Taiwanese women, who used to shoulder the childbearing and the domestic labor imposing by patriarchism; the foreign brides, to whom the duties are now outsourced; the distinct life experience they go through; the upward mobility they both seek; and how they look each other.

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