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Thai women planning to marry a Western husband have been warned to learn about their legal rights or they could end up very unhappy. 

A western man and a Thai woman wearing Thai traditional wedding costume attend a mock wedding ceremony held during a seminar on unions between western men and Thai women. The seminar was organised by Rangsit University’s International College on Tuesday. THITI WANNAMONTHA


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Not a bed of roses

"Living abroad with foreign husbands is not always as wonderful as a lot of people expect,” Suwat Kaewsook told a seminar on cross cultural marriages yesterday at Rangsit University's International College.

As director of the Department of Consular Affairs' Protection of Thai Nationals Abroad Division, Mr Suwat knows what he is talking about. He says Thai women thinking of marrying a foreigner should learn about their legal rights in their husband’s country.

The problems are real and unpleasant. Already 200 women had sought advice on their marriages from a new website www.thaiforeignspouse.com set up by Kanokrat Nimsamoot Booth.

"The main problem is that their foreign husbands have affairs and want a divorce, despite them having kids together," said Ms Kanokrat who is chair of the Federation of Thai and Foreign Spouse Networks Association of Thailand.

She said many of the women did not have enough money to sue their husbands for abandonment and sought help from her association.

There are currently around 50,000 Thai women married to German men, 30,000 married to French men, 30,000 to Americans, 25,000 to Australians, 10,000 to Britons, 8,742 to Swedes, 7,937 to Taiwanese, 3,000 to Austrians, 2,891 to Finns and 1,086 to Danes, according to statistics compiled by the Foreign Ministry.

Not all of them live abroad. Somkid Homnet, a consultant working with the Department of Labour and Social Welfare found that there were up to 5,700 foreign spouses from 33 countries living in the province of Udon Thani alone.

Most of them were German, British, American, Australian and French, and they had an average monthly income of about 100,000 baht.

Mr Somkid’s study found they met their wives through matchmaking companies, the internet and friends or relatives.
 
Adapted from a story in today's Bangkok Post by Lamphai Intathep.

traditional – of a custom, a way of life or a way of doing things that has not changed for a long time ตามธรรมเนียม, ประเพณี ดั้งเดิม ตามที่ปฏิบัติกันมา
mock – not real, but intended to seem or look real จำลอง
union – a marriage การสมรส
bed of roses – a happy life without problems ชีวิตที่สุขสบาย
abroad – in or to a foreign country  ในต่างประเทศ
wonderful – very good, pleasant or enjoyable ดีเยี่ยม
consular affairs – matters involving government officials who represent their country in a foreign city or country กรณียกิจเกี่ยวกับกงสุล
national – a citizen of a particular country  ประชาชน
legal – relating to the law or lawyers เกี่ยวกับกฎหมาย
seek (past form: sought) – to try to obtain or achieve something พยายามได้มา
advice – an opinion or a suggestion about what somebody should do in a particular situation  คำแนะนำ
affair – a sexual relationship between two people, especially when one of them is married to someone else ความสัมพันธ์เชิงชู้สาว
divorce – a legal way of ending a marriage การหย่า
chair – to be the person in charge of a meeting, committee, company, etc. ดำรงตำแหน่งประธาน, ทำหน้าที่ในฐานะประธาน
federation – a large organisation made up of several smaller organisations or groups that share similar aims สหพันธ์, สมาคม
spouse – a husband or wife คู่สมรส
network – a large system of connected parts, organisations, people, etc. เครือข่าย
association – an official group of people who have joined together for a particular purpose สมาคม
sue – to take legal action against a person or organisation, especially by making a legal claim for money because of some harm that they have caused you ฟ้องร้อง
abandonment – the act of leaving a person, thing or place with no intention of returning การทอดทิ้ง, การละทิ้ง
currently – at this time; now ในปัจจุบัน
compile – to collect information from different places and arrange it in a book, report or list รวบรวม
consultant – a person who knows a lot about a particular subject and is employed to give advice about it to other people ผู้ให้คำปรึกษา
labour – work, especially hard physical work งานที่ใช้พละกำลัง
welfare – help given, especially by the state or an organization, to people who need it; good care and living conditions สวัสดิภาพ
average – an amount calculated by adding several amounts together, finding a total, and dividing the total by the number of amounts เฉลี่ย, ค่าเฉลี่ย
income – money that someone gets from working or from investing money รายได้
matchmaking – arranging marriages or relationships between others สื่อชักนำการแต่งงาน
relative – a member of your family ญาติพี่น้อง

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