Norway: Imported Thai wives forced into prostitution and divorce Print E-mail

Oslo May 6 2005

Thai women dumped in Norway

Increasing numbers of women from Thailand, brought to Norway by Norwegian husbands, are ending up dumped or forced into prostitution. One woman said her husband forced her to sell sex for 10 years to finance his car and home.

He then filed for divorce, saying he couldn't stand living with a "whore." She lost everything, including rights to their child, because she had no visible means of support.

"This is incredibly sad," Tove Smaadahl of the Norwegian Women's Crisis Secretariat told newspaper VG this week. "There are many Thai women who come to us. We see that many of them have never learned Norwegian, and that prostitution is their only means of support."

Many of the Thai women showing up at local crisis centers have been subjected to abuse, both physical and psychological, by their Norwegian husbands. One woman, who moved to Norway to be with the man she married, was shocked to find that he'd turned one of the rooms in his house into a bordello where he expected her to work.

The exploitation of these women has recently been documented in a report by Ellen Kristvik at the Institute for Community Medicine and the University of Oslo. The report was commissioned by the state ministry for townships.

In one of the more shocking cases, a 45-year-old woman said she had paid for the house and car purchased by her husband by working at a local massage institute. Some of the money she earned also was sent back to her family in Thailand, via her husband's account.

When he filed for divorce, he could allege that he had sent money back to her family over the years. If she was to get half the value of their house, he demanded credit for the money he had sent. The woman had no documentation for her earnings through prostitution, so couldn't prove that the money had in fact come from her.

She lost the case and also lost it on appeal. The man, meanwhile, claimed he had obtained the money for his house and car from friends.

Figures from Norway's foreign ministry indicate that 935 women from Thailand moved to Norway last year after marrying Norwegian men. Of the 153 Asian women who sought help at Oslo PRO-Center last year, which offers support for prostitutes, fully 148 were from Thailand.

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