Intercultural relationships in Cambodia


We invite you to share some fun anecdotes and information regarding intercultural marriages and relationships in Cambodia. This will provide some insight to current and future expats regarding relationship norms in mixed relationships and marriages in Cambodia.

What are some of the best things about being in an intercultural relationship/marriage?

What are some challenges that you have faced or are currently facing? How do you address them?

Are intercultural relationships/marriages common and accepted in Cambodia?

What are the benefits to being in an intercultural relationship/marriage?

Do you have any fun or interesting anecdotes to share regarding dating norms and rules for intercultural relationships/marriages?

Thank you for sharing your experience,


Wow Priscilla, that is a subject I could talk about for hours. So how to minimize it into an answer of a few lines? I will try.

First there is a common thing in ic relationships with women in SE Asia. They all have the "care" gene in them, they love to take care of you and for us that is a welcome and new aspect in our life.
It goes further, the whole family will take care of you if you would become disabled, sick or just old.
They will not, like in our nanny states, put you in a home for the elderly, also called waiting for the death homes. It was for me one of the main reasons to leave my country and emigrate to SE Asia, in my case Thailand, where I was married to a Thai woman. I think the caring is the same in countries like Lao, Cambodia, Thailand and probably Vietnam and Philippines.

There is another reason to engage in ic relationships. There is a lot of poverty in SE Asia, girls tend to marry very young, get a baby or two and because the immature husband does not get the full attention he is used to from a baby boy on, he leaves his young wife and she can take care of the kids but with no support of the father of the kids.
That leads to the young girl having to work, in Cambodia around Phnom Penh a lot of girls work in the garment and shoe industry, and they leave the upbringing of the kids to their mom. But as the money they earn is hardly enough for the family to eat and raise kids, the young girl wishes to meet a reliable, stable partner who will support her and her family and take away the burden of raising kids and having to work. The girls are fed up with local guys so they are looking for foreigners. But young foreigners have their job, house, family and even sometimes girlfriend at home, they cannot come to live in Cambodia for the next 20 or so years, so that is not such a good solution.
Leaves those foreigners that live in Cambodia as interesting possible partners. Those that live here can be divided into two groups: younger foreigners that work here and retired foreigners.
Many of the working foreigners have a family already when they come to Cambodia, so that leaves only the single foreigners with a job. On the other hand there are plenty of retired, single foreigners living the good life in Cambodia. That is the background of many a ic relationship and in spite of some negative stories I have seen many successful relationships, based on mutual respect and loyalty.

Special things of dating Cambodian girls is that there are a lot of conservative families and that is a problem. I met a lovely girl and asked her if we could meet. Her answer was yes I like to, but you have to come to my house and ask my parents permission to meet me. That was an obstacle for me.

Girls of a bit better off families will not come alone to a date, they are accompanied by a chaperone, mostly a cousin, elder sister. Horrible situation as you want to talk to the girl, not a third person. But when you are nice to the chaperone she will report positively to the parents and if you're lucky the next time the girl is allowed to meet you without the chaperone.

One thing I find particularly special about girls here. They get up early, cook rice, clean the kitchen and the house and.... sing! There is no better wake up than to hear a sweet lovely voice singing early in the morning. Each time I hear it I get emotional, ok maybe I'm a silly old bugger ;)

Adapt to their culture and traditions, but don't throw away your own culture and traditions. Having an ic relationship and living in their country means you have to respect and switch to part of their culture, but not totally. This is what Cambodian girls and more their families tend to forget. You cannot ask a foreigner to forget his culture, as much as the foreigner respects the Cambodian culture, the girl plus family also have to respect the foreigner's culture.
To give an example out of my life. In my European country, and many other countries, it is against the law to pay money to a girl or her family in order to marry her. That law is to prevent human trafficking.
So that does not only relate to the direct dowry, it also relates to giving the family money so they can organize the "village drunk for three days" party, or any money changing hands. Of course giving the girl jewelry is not part of it. In SE Asian countries this will cause a stir, as their tradition is different. My answer to it is that I refuse to do something against the laws of my country. But as a good salesman I come up with an alternative, that should [and does] make everybody happy.

That is in short ;) my experience with ic relationships with Cambodian and SE Asian girls.
I could write an essay about it, but I won't take more of your time :)



Funny experience I had, I had been dating as I would call it this nice Cambodian woman, she spoke fairly good English, , ok anyway we were just talking, I told her she was my best friend, she abruptly got up and left saying she didn’t feel well, long story short she didn’t contact me for several days, because she  “ was crying” she thought that we were just friends and I was ( breaking) from her.

Right. Wrong words in her eyes.

Two things come to mind:

1. They have the horrible [in my eyes] habit of going into "silent mode" if something bothers them. They don't talk about it in order to solve it, they just stop talking. I always call them Selena Gomez "We don't talk anymore".

2. They are extremely jealous. Don't look too long to another girl [more than 3 seconds], don't smile to another girl, don't mention another girl looking good. They can be furious, but also very sweet when you explain they are the only important girl.



Sad  to  say, and  with respect,   I  found Joe's  treatise  on intercultural  marriages  in Cambodia  a  bit  one  sided,   and  shallow.   However  I  support  anyone's  right  to  express  a  courteous  even  divergent  view -   even  if  as  an  expat  I  feel  some  of  the  comments  may  not  reflect  well  on us  in the  eyes  of  our  host  community.

Personally  I  think  as  visitors, guests  or  adopted  family  in Cambodia (or  any  host  country)  we  should  stop  short  of  shallow  or  superficial   expatriate  perspectives  on the  local  social  norms and  foreigner  perceptions (quite  often   misperceptions),  particularly  expat  males  diagnosing or  passing  judgement  on the perceived woes of  local  male  population (while  praising  the local  female  population).  My  personal  view  is  their  are  deeper  issues  historically,  culturally  etc.  One  has  only  to  look  at  the  traditional "Chbab Srey"  and "Chbab Bros" [and  I  make  absolutely  no  claim  to  being  expert].

Despite working  and  living extensively  across  Asia, and  in Middle  East  and  parts  of  Africa,  and  having  been  with  my  Cambodian  wife  for  14+   excellent  years,  I  would be reluctant to  endorse some of  Joe's  analysis,  but  agree limited aspects.  I  have  been  based  in Cambodia  from 1994  and  seen  the  country  change  extensively.  I  met  my  wife  here  in 2003.  With  respect,  Joe's analysis seems  a  bit  shallow, and  is  more  reflective  of  the  view  of  Cambodia  and  Cambodia  relationships often  seen  from an  expat  barstool.

In  addition  to  my  own  relationship  and  marriage  to  a lovely  Khmer  rural  lady from (widowed  mother  and  extended  family)  we  some  years  later  went  through  the  exercise  again  with  the  foreigner  who  visited  Cambodia  and   married  my  wife's  small  sister (actually  a close "sibling cousin"  growing  up  in the  same  extended  family  and  house  as  my  wife)  before  taking  her abroad .  Many  of  his  views  and  perceptions  were  similar  to  Joe's  particularly  on issues  such  as  dowry,  chaperones, conservatism,  etc.  But over  time he changed.   As  small  sister  lived  with  us  we  supported  the  local  culture  and  the  family's  values  in respect  of  conservatism,  respect, dating,  chaperones  and  dowry.  We  had  many  "discussions"  that as a  foreigner  he  felt  that  I  should  side  with  him  on his  resistance to, even rejection  of, these  matters  and   taking    our  unwed  sister  back  to  his  home  country  for  an  unchaperoned  holiday ...    he  did  not  prevail  in   those   debates !!   But  to  his  credit  he accepted  later  that    his  relationship  and  marriage was  the  better  for  it,  and  bowed  to and  even embraced  the  customs  and  respect  for  his  wife's  culture  and  family.  Subsequently in a  crisis  of  his  untimely  death  abroad, the  Cambodian  family  instantly  rallied  together  despite  cost, logistics, other  commitments, lack  of  passports  and  foreign  travel  experience  and  other  challenges  to  support  his  young Cambodian  widow  and  children  in a  foreign  country  with  my  wife  being  there  within  days  to  assist  for  an  extended  period.  In turn  the  family  and  I  held  things  together  in Cambodia.  This  is  the  upside  of  these  extended  families  (not  just  in Cambodia).  I  am  not  sure  how  many  western  families (my  own  included)  even  with  vastly  superior  expat resources,  would  have  responded  as well  and prioritised  the  needs  of  the  most  affected  family  members (widow  and toddlers  resident abroad)   as  the  Cambodian  family  did  in this  and similar  crises.

There  are  strong   and  deep seated  cultural  reasons  behind  many  of  these  aspects,  and  it  makes  the  Cambodian  people (or  as  focused  in earlier  post,  the Cambodian  ladies)  what  they  are.  I  agree  there is a  small  stereotype  element   such  as  Joe  has  described,  and  you  will  find  them  in many bars, not  just  in Cambodia.  The  problem  being  is  that  it  can  be  difficult  for  foreigners  to  find  their  way  into  and  be  accepted  in Cambodia  normal  society.  Foreigners  also  tend  to  be  in too  much  of a  hurry ....  be  whether  they  are  trying  to  get a  decision at  work  or  convince  their  local  partner to start  an intimate  relationship.  Take  time,  be  patient,  it  normally  pays  dividends.

We  went  through  the  process  with a  very conservative  rural   village  family (though  my  future  spouse  was  staying  with local  community  in Phnom Penh,  for  work)  of  the  traditional  courtship  the  chaparones  and  so  on  very  patiently  and  it  paid  dividends.  Although initially a  bit  new  as  a  foreigner, it  was  very  positive,  and  I  accepted  as  my   future  wife was  from a  conservative  background. She  was  born  to  the  school  of  ".....A  Cambodian lady  does  not  make  noise  walking across  a  wooden  floor....."  and  "......Cambodian  boys  are  diamond, Cambodian  girls  are  silk.....".  While  I   and  little  sister's  husband  had  the  chaparones (him to a  lesser  degree  than  me  as  the  family  had   become  flexible  to  foreigners  over time)  our  experience  was  we  were  not  asked  to  meet  family,  and  initially  suggestions  to  meet  family  were  politely  declined  or  excused  by  our  future  spouses.  It  was  only  when  the  relationship was  heading  towards  engagement    in both  cases  that parents  would  agree  to  meet  the  prospective  foreigner  partner  /  future  spouse.  There was  the  issue  of  not  possibly  losing  face  or  being  seen  to  endorse  a relationship  that  may  not  materialise.   

The  dowry  was an  interesting  one  (and  I  have  encountered  it  in many  countries  though  different  whether  paid  by  groom  side  or  bride  side  depending  on country).  In some  countries  it  is  known as "breast  milk  money"  which  encapsulates  some  of  the  logic  behind  this  compensation  of  the  family,  and  / or  providing  future  security  if  the marriage  fails.   

As little  sister's  future  spouse  pointed  out   he  would  not  "buy"  his  bride.    However  after  some  sober  reflection (away  from  his  bar room advisers)   he  came  to  realise  that    there  is  a sound  basis  to  dowry,  it  is  rarely  arbitrarily  set,  and  it  would  be  disrespectful  to  his  future  parents  in law   and  especially  his  future  bride, to  try  and  bargain  them  down,  this suggesting  his  future  bride (who  was  what  Cambodian  refer  to  as "Special", ie  no  prior  intimate  partners)  was  less  than  beyond  price  or  value,  but  should  be acquired  at  bargain basement  rate.   In traditional  Cambodian  situation  the  dowry  is  not  negotiated   between  the  partners,  but  by  third  parties.  In  some  instances  it  reflects  the  willingness  or  otherwise  of  the  parents  to allow  the  marriage (I  have  known  cases  it was  set  so  high  as  to  deter  a wedding).   

In my  case   I  found  out  much  later   there  was a  "formula"  which  the  combined  members  of  extended  family  and  their  village advisers (as  the  family  had  no  knowledge  of  foreigner matters) applied.  Unbeknown  to  me  my  future  bride   appealed  to  her  mother  that  although  the  figure  was  not  high,  I  would  find  it  difficult  to  meet   as  I  had  limited  income  and  support  commitments  of  an  earlier  marriage.   My  future  mother  in law  accordingly  against  all  advice  lowered  the  figure  substantially  as  she  had  no  wish  to  impede  the  marriage,  wanted  to  see  her  daughter  happy, did  not  want  to  impse  hardship,  but  on the  other  hand  could  not  lose  face .  Also  unbeknown  to  me  close  Camboidan  friends  had  done  a "due  diligence"  on my  future  wife  and  family,  in the  same  way  my  future spouses  family   had  checked  me  out  through  third  parties.   My  Cambodian  friends  expressed  their approval  by  indicating  that  in the  event   I  could  not  meet  the  dowry (which  at  that  point  they  had  no  knowledge  of)  they  would  be  happy  to assist,  which  in any  event  was  unnecessary.

I  agree  with  Joe  the  Cambodian  ladies  can  be  very  caring  and  they  and  family  can  be  very  supportive  of  someone  seen  as a  good  spouse ...... that  does  not  mean  as  so  often  misperceived / reported  by  expat  colleagues  as a human ATM !!   My  financial  means  was  very  limited  but  we  have a  good  family  relationship  and  respect (if  sometimes  confusion)  on both  sides.  The  ladies  are  traditionally  quite  strong  and  independent,  but  at  the  same  time  value  being  feminine  and  well  regarded,  and in  my  experience  with  our  own  family  and    friends  loyalty to  spouse  and  family  is  valued.    Cambodia  even  today  as  strong  roots  in a  matrilineal  and  matriarchal    society ........ on  the  face  of  it  men  have  authority  and  privilege,  but  quietly  in the  background  many  Cambodian  ladies  pull  the  strings (especially  financial)  and  wield  almost  invisible, soft  but  significant  authority.  I  recommend  to  anyone  the  final  chapter  of  "The Gods Drink Whiskey: Stumbling Toward Enlightenment in the Land of the Tattered Buddha" [ by Stephen T. Asma]  in  which  before  leaving  Cambodia  to  return  to  the  West  and  his  Western  family    he  contrasts  the  different  roles, perceptions  and   interactions  in a  Western family,  as  compared  to a  Cambodian  family. 

The  Cambodian  ladies  (as  in many  of  these  countries  where  they  do  not  get  enough  credit)   tend  to  have a  lot  of  initiative  and  drive,  particularly  in finances  and  business  and  in   holding  together  and  organising  the  family.  One  of  my  friends  with a  Thai  wife makes  the  same  comments  and  that  why  should  we  interfere,  because they  do  it so  well !!   During  my  absence abroad  in Africa  on assignment  my  Cambodian  wife  arranged  for  the  financing,   material  supply  logistics  from Phnom Penh  to  her  village,  hire  of  a  master craftsman  and   organisation of  the  extended  family  as  unskilled  labour  to  assist  in building  our  house   in her  village  ...  completely  without   my  knowledge.  I am  an engineer  to  be  honest  it  is  unlikely  I  could  have  designed  and  project  managed  it as  well.

Similarly  again  my  wife  organised the  full  ceremony  of  our  traditional  Cambodian  wedding ..  including food , venue, photography, video,  clothing  changes, assistants,  traffic  control,  etc  as  well  as  keeping  accounting  of  all  wedding  gifts  to  ensure  for  future  weddings  we  did  not offend  with  inappropraite  reciprocal  offerings.  Personally  I was  not  initially  in favour  of  the  multiple  clothing  changes  and  ceremony.  In  the  end  I acceded  as   I  could see  it was  important  to  my  future  wife  and  family ..... it was  the  right  decision  to  agree  to  the  traditional  wedding  and  clothing changes  and  everything  else,  as  it was  important  to  the  local  and family stakeholders and  I   have  recommended  friends  do  likewise

In summary   in my  experience  (personally  and  friends) the  ladies  tend  to  have  initiative,   vision  and  drive  and  generally  good  values  when  respected  and  honoured  as a  spouse  and  their  culture  and  family  respected.  They  honour  a  loyal  spouse  or  partner.  This  s  reflected  /  documented  also  in John Tully's  "A Short History of Cambodia - From Empire To  Surviavl"  in which  he  comments  on the  attributes   of  integrity, loyalty,  hard  work, good  spouse, business  acumen, etc   resulting  in Khmer  rural  ladies  being  brides  of  choice  for  visiting  traders. 

The  other  side  is  that  the  Cambodian nature  and  courteousy   has  another  side  of  sometime  envy  or  jealousy.  Rivals   will  play  on this  to  create  strife  and  as  a  foreigner  I  am  wary not  to consciously   do  anything  that  could  either  make  my  spouse  possibly  distrusting  or    have another  party  try  to  stoke  jealousy.     

i  agree  with  Joe  and others  that  the  Cambodian  silence  (by ladies  or  men)  can  be   unnerving  to  foreigners.  It  took  me a  long  time  and a  careful  explanation by  wife  and  little  sister  to  understand.  Simply  put on  one  occaison  as  example  my  wife  became very  frustrated  and angry  with  the  computer  malfunction.  As a  foreigner I would  turn  it  off  and  go  to  the  shop.  For  her  it was a  big  issue,  and  try  as I  could  to  calm  her  even  I was  not  the  cause.  Eventually  it was  explained  to  me  that  when  really upset  or  distressed she  quite  literally (and  I  have  heard  similarly  for  others)  was  unable  to  communicate.  She  needed  to  be  left  alone  to    let  matters  resolve.  As a  foreigner  I would  likely    go  and  meditate  or  cycle  to  unwind,  but  the  locals  have a  different  set  of  coping  mechanisms.  Typically  as  foreigners  we  see  life  through  our  own  prism  and  may  find  it  difficult  to  appreciate  different  culture,  different background,  different  environment  resiults  in different  coping  mechanisms.    It  is  after all  their  country  and  culture so  the  least  we  can  do  is  try  and understand ...  it  does  wonders!!

We  were  fortunate  to  marry  before  the  recent  issues    and  constraints  on  foreigner  weddings,  so  our  marriage  was  formalised.  Mind  you  this  again  took  patience  and  even  with  advice  from the  embassy  and  hiring  of  an  adviser,  processing  of  the  marriage  documents,  consent  to  marry  and  so  on took  about  10  months,  but  it was  done  very  well.    In particular  with  the  recent  issues  on visa  extensions  for  foreigners  we  found  that  having a  properly  formalised  marriage  to  Cambodian  citizen  has  assisted  in  my legitimate  and  leaglly  valid visa  extension (albeit  without  need  of  work  permit,  though  it  does  not  confer right  to  work  without the  work  permit).    While  it  took  a  long  period   to  get  our  marriage  documents  formalised  (a  one  off  process),  I  have  to  say   visa  applications  for  me  in Cambodia  have  been  fairly  straightforward ...  while  obtaining  a  tourist  visit  for  my  wife  to  visit  my  home  country  in two separate occasions   took  as  long  for an  NZ  visa  process  (8  and  10  months)  as  did  our  Cambodian  marriage  application,  so  there is a  need  for a  sense  of  balance  and perspective.

In  my  experience  the  occasions  I  have  seen  intercultural  relationships  in Cambodia  and  elsewhere  fail  (and  where  our  own  relationship  has  had  the  odd  tricky  moment  generally with  outsiders sticking  their  views  in)   is  where  one  or  other  party  cannot  be  flexible  and  recognise  the  need  to  meet  halfway.  Accept  the  cultures  and  backgrounds  are  different  and  that  to  work  they  has  to  be  concessions  on both  sides.   Decide  for  each  party  what are  the  red  lines  and  why  and  explain  it  but  respect  the  other  party's  red  lines  and  background  and  environment.  Another  factor  is  that   the  local  partner /  spouse  has a  lot  more  home  influences  around  them  than  the  visitor (immigrant)   partner,  so  it  is  beholden for  the  visitor  to  accept  there  are  different  local  pressures  and  environmental  issues.   

I  don't  want  to  sound  specifically  critical  of Joe's comments,  but  I  do  not  believe  the answer  is  to  fall  back  on what  is  legal or accepted  in your  home (foreigner, expatriate) country  and  use  that  as  the  yardstick  or   definitive  criteria.  That  is  most  unfair  and  disrespectful  IMHO  of  the  host  country  and  your  partner  / spouse.  If  you  prefer  the  laws  in your  own  country   maybe  that  is  the  best  place  to  be.  But  here we  are  in Cambodia  where  Cambodian laws  and  culture  generally  should  prevail  for  legal,  common practice  and  respect  provisions.  Obviously  there will  be  in any  country  laws  or  customs  that    do  not  sit well  with  a  foreigner -  in that  case  if  not  covered  by  local  law /  custom  as a  grown  up  you  have  your  personal  values,  interity , ethics  and  moral  standards  you  should  comply  with.  An  understanding  and  caring  local  partner  will  respect  the  values  of  their  foreigner  partner (and we  have  said  most  Cambodian  ladies  are  caring,  and  most  Cambodian  men  and women  are  courteous).  To  fall  back  on the  principal  that  what  is  legal  or accepted in a  foreigners  home  country  is  a definitive  norm,  is  to  justify  in some  cases quite  terrible  abuses  from  other  countries  that  could  never  be accepted  by  most  people.       

On a  final  note  I  can  recommend  a  hilariously  funny  but  very  insightful  and  relevant  short  book "I Married a Barbarian: The Heart-Warming, True Story of a British Lad and a Chinese Lass" [by Dennis Bloodworth & Liang Ching Ping].  Very  similar  to  Cambodian  issues  and  very  insightful  as  to  how  differently  the  two  partners  backgrounds  may  shape  their  perceptions,  and  more  importantly  their  entirely  different  perceptions  of, and reaction to,  the  same  event.

Hello Chris.

A good read, interesting but because you write so much you forgot the oversight. You complain several times about my shallow opinion but at the same time you tell about the same story as I did.

Let's take the topics one by one.

My first words are about the caring of SE Asian girls and their families, and you agree to that.

Then I tell about the reason why many young Cambodian girls get in relationships with senior foreigners. I don't want to repeat the reasons, but you can believe me that it is true. You have met one girl if I'm right, unmarried, no kids, no ex husband that said bye bye without support for his kids.

I have met many and really many girls, both in Thailand as in Cambodia, that tell the same story, it's always about marrying a local very young guy, getting a baby and then it goes wrong, because the boy did not get full attention anymore, he had to share attention with his baby and a lot of them are not able to cope with that, so they find another girl that gives them full attention again and they disappear, leaving their wife with one or two kids and no money. It is horrible but it's the truth.

Laws. If I still have the citizenship of my home country, and I have, I am obliged to follow the laws of my country. It's not a choice, it's a must. Read Laws, not religion, politics, but laws. As you mention yourself talking about dowry is determining the value of the girl, is she a virgin, has she been married before, does she have kids?
I personally find that a very bad thing and it borders the talking of traders that trade humans, they also talk about the value of a certain person. Those two facts have made my mind and I will always reject it. But, you might not have read that, I stated that I come with an alternative that makes everyone happy. Isn't that nice? Everybody happy, nobody loses face.

Other than you I face the rule that I cannot marry a Cambodian girl, so that takes away many things of the conservative traditional way, there will be no marriage.

I have told about specific and funny items during dating, I don't condemn them, I just told them. The girl that asked me to ask her family if I could date her, I dated her, after a first talk to her older sister and two brothers. So there are solutions and I'm a strong believer in finding solutions.

I have been dating a girl with a chaperone, and as I wrote, by being nice to the chaperone, an older sister in this case, the chaperone turned into a promoter of her sister and me, so it went well.

Funny you say foreigners have problems to cope with normal society and added that you several times mention bars, bar stools it seems that you think that other foreigners than you only visit bars and have a bar stool opinion based on nothing.
You should go out more often and talk to other foreigners. I know a lot of foreigners that lead a normal life, are married to a lovely Cambodian girl and things are fine. I also know many single foreigners and they also engage in normal activities and not often hang around in bars.

Speaking for myself, I tend to concentrate on normal girls, with a job. Under my female friends in PP I count an accountant, a registered nurse, a waitress, a night-manager of a restaurant and a hotel manager. But unfortunately two of them have to work to support their kids as the husband left them alone. I like the bar scene too, but don't see it as a serious place to meet a possible girlfriend. As I don't drink I don't get drunk too, no strange situations, always fit in the morning even after a long night.

I hope to have taken away some of your stereotype foreigner idea, of course there are foreigners that sit on their bar stool from 4 pm til late, you find those types everywhere in the world and they have a very small world in which they survive.



Jo,  just  to  correct  some  misconceptions,  you expressed.  And  I  did agree  with  several  of  your  points  in my  earlier  post.

I  met  one  girl  you  surmise ......  correction,  I  came  here  in 1994 as  noted,  and  met  my   current  wive  in 2003.  There  were  a  number  of  charming  ladies   I  know  well  in various  capacities in the  intervening  period, one  of  whom  was a  business  partner  (friend  of  my  family NZ)  with  whom  I  had  a  half  share  of a  coffee  shop  bar.  We  still  count  among  our  friends   several  charming  ladies    whose  circumstances  are  poor,  they  are  divorced  or  abandoned,  and  possibly  are  not  what  some  folk  would  call   "suitable company",  but  they  are always  welcome  without  criticism.  We  ask  our  other  friends  to  respect  our  choice  of  friends  and  company.

I  am  what  you  would  refer  to  as a  "senior  foreigner",  as  was the  chap  who  married  "little  sister"  and   probably  the  majority  of  our  expat  friends, and  professional  colleagues  with  local  partners.   The  reasons  you  give  why  Cambodian  (and Asian  ladies  in other countries)  are  involved  with  the  senior  foreigners   (while  acknowledging  some  fact  in your in  your  comment)    are  in the  majority  of  couples we  know   not  applicable. 

In many  cases   not  just  Cambodia,  marriage  to  an  older person  who  is  more  mature  and  has  established  themselves, not  just  starting  out,    and  who  often is  going  to  be (and  more  able  to  be)   more  attentive  to  a  young  woman  than a  younger  suitor ......  is  favoured  whether  an  expatriate  or  a  local  senior.    My  wife  actually  proposed  to  me  and  we  had a  long  discussion  as  to  why  she wanted  to  marry  me, and  I  had a  similar  discussion with  little  sister as  to  her  choice  of a  more  mature  spouse.   

Other  factors  such  as  the cultural  perception  of   "boy  is  diamond,  girl  is  silk"   also  can   have  an  influence  .......  even  if  there  is  no  child  or  previous  marriage   involved.    I know  of  a  couple  of  close  friends,  former  staff,  Cambodian  ladies    whose  choices  have  been  influenced  by  this  without  previous  marriage  or  children.

What I  am suggesting  its  not  simple  and  clear  cut  decision,  necessarily  driven  by  past  marriages,  abuse, desertion,  children.  In   many  cases  culturally  it  is  preferred  to  marry  a  more  mature  husband,  either  local  or  foreigner.     

I  don't  actually  do  bars  that  much  now  I  am  remarried  as  we  tend  to  dine  out  and  socialise  in other ways  mostly  with  Khmer  friends  and  a  circle  of  expats  of  similar  interests . I  admit prior  to  meeting  my  wife  I  was  quite  frequently  in  bars,  and  some  of  my  conduct  may  have  on occasions  been  excessive.    To  correct  any  misinterpretation my  main  experience  in Cambodia  has  not  actually  been  in the  bars  as  but  working  in a  technical  capacity   on  secondment  to  various  ministries   here (5  in total),   NGOs  and  with  donors  and  development  banks  plus  a  couple  of  contractors.  So  you  get  to see  quite  a  broad  spectrum  of  people  male  and  female  from  the  professionals  to  the  service  people,  plus  officials  and  commune  folk  and  having  worked   and  lived   in   about  8  provinces  you  also get  a perspective  often  not  seen  in the  city. 

My  work  takes  me  to  conflict  zones  and  disasters  and  developing  countries  across  South, South East  and  Central Asia  and  occasionally  Africa  and  other  locations.   The  issues  of  intercultural  relationships  across  Asia  seem  to  me  fairly  similar,  though  of  course  there  are added  cultural  dimensions  in  countries  like  Pakistan  and Afghanistan.  Many  of  the  problems  you  state (or  rather  the  symptoms,  as  I am  not sure  I  entirely agree  you  diagnosis),  I  have  seen  in most  of  those  countries. In  some  countries  the  symptoms  /  impacts  are  more  severe  than  Cambodia.  As  I  said  I  would  look,  inter alia  the  history  and  demographic  of   a  country  like  Cambodia  and  for  example  the  influence  of  the  "Chbab Srey"  and "Chbab Bros"  (which  I  understand  are  now  officially  removed  from  Cambodian  teaching,  but  have  influences). 

Also, Joe,  as  I  understand  you  are  hearing  from  apparently  a  number  of  ladies  their  side  of  why  the  marriage  broke  down.  I  would  believe  having  been  through  a  marriage  breakup  and  having  seen  other  relationships  fail  that  there are  two  sides  to  a  marriage  breakdown,  and  it  would  be  rare   if  either  party  in a  relationship  breakup  was  objective  or  perceived  aspects  their  partner  may  have  perceived.      Particularly  in   culture  where  saving  face  is  important,  and    also  wanting  to  have a  sympathetic  hearing  I  am  wondering  if the  views  you  received  from  one  person (the  lady) where  entirely  objective ....  or  whether  the  partners  might  have  had a  different  dimension.  On the  other  hand maybe  you  talked  to  the  partners  also.

I am  not  denying  there  are  women  in the  situation  that you describe, Joe,  and  some  of  our  projects  here  have  been  to  assist  those  vulnerable  people.   There  are  also  so  really  good  expat  employers  (including  bars  and  restaurants)  giving  those  ladies  refuge  and  helping  them  get  back  on their  feet.    I  am  saying  that  too  often  its   put  up  as a stereotype   and  too  often  its purveyed  from the  bar  room  experts.  We  had  to  dispel  a  lot  of  that  misinformation  from   from the  chap  who  married  little  sister  and  even  he  admitted  he  had  been  misled  with  wrong  impressions.

The  issues  you  describe  about  attention  and abuse  are not  limited  to  Cambodia.  I  read  a  very  sad  report   the  other  day  of a  multi  years  study  in my  own  home  country  and  the  number  of abuses  of  children  and  dysfunctional  marriages. 

Joe,  where  I  do  draw  a  line  and  take  some  exception  is  your  implication  in the  statement  that "... As you mention yourself talking about dowry is determining the value of the girl, is she a virgin, has she been married before, does she have kids?..."    AT  NO  POINT  did  I  expressly  state  or  imply  the formula  for  dowry  is  anything  to  do  with  being a  virgin  or  having  children. [In  some  Asian  countries, other  than  Cambodia,  that  a  women  has  borne  a  child is  actually  a  bonus  as  it  demonstrates  fertility] .           

What  I  did  state  was  that it  tends  not  to  be  arbitrary,  it  can  be  pushed  up  or  lowered  to  be a  barrier  to  an  unwelcome  suitor  or  to  encourage  an  appropriate  prospective  spouse  and  that traditionally  the  dowry  is  based  in a  "formula",   "......... In some  countries  it  is  known as "breast  milk  money"  which  encapsulates  some  of  the  logic  behind  this  compensation  of  the  family,  and  / or  providing  future  security  if  the marriage  fails........".   This  is  about,  among  other  things,  a  cultural  perspective  of  loss  of  a  productive  family  member  in societies  where  there  is  no  social  welfare, and  family  members  are  both  a means  of  productive  income  and  old  age  security  that  is  removed or  diminished by  a  marriage.   

You  appear  to  have  confused  /  misinterpreted  this  with  a  separate  comment    that  it  is  disrespectful  to  bargain  on a  dowry  as  your  future  spouse  should  be seen as  invaluable  and  beyond  bargaining.  As  a  side  comment  (in brackets) I  mentioned  that  in the  specific  case  in question  the  lady  was "special"  which  I  concede  indirectly  reflects  the "boy  is  diamond,  girl  is  silk"  concept  of  perceived virginity (and I stress  perceived),  but  nothing  to  do  with  whether  the  lady  has  been  married  or  had  children.

To  be  honest  Joe  I am lost  on your   issue  of  laws.  I  am  a  citizen  of  NZ  and  bound  by  their  laws  in NZ.  In some  cases  there  are  laws  in some  countries  which  have  extra-terratorial  jurisdiction  such  as  for  trafficking, enslavement, sex  abuse, sex tourism,   etc,  and  for  those  your/ my  country  may  prosecute  even  if  you  committed  the  crimes  in another  country.   

Dowry  is a widely  accepted  and in many  countries  established  respected  culture,  even  it  is  misperceived abroad  in the  west.  I  have  worked  with  refugees  and  displaced  people  in a  number  of  countries  and  I  am  not yet aware  of   a  country  (there  may  be  some  ??)  that would  count  a  genuine  dowry  for a  bona  fide  marriage  as    a  trafficking,  enslavement,  abuse  crime. I I  have  my  doubts    home  country  laws  would  prohibit or  punish  dowry  in a  country where  it  is  an accepted  and  legitimate practice.

Consequently  I  do  not  see  the  relevance  of  importing  home  country  laws  into  another  country ......  that  could   result  justifying   various  abuses  or  omission based  on  external  laws,    On the  other  hand  I  may  not  agree  with  the  practices  permitted  in some  countries  I  work  and  they  may  be  illegal  in my  home  country.  But the  yardstick  for  me  is  as  a minimum  the  local  law  (in this  case  law  of  Cambodia) plus  my personal  values  and  ethics.  I  do  not  need  to  justify   it as  illegal  in a  foreign  country  that  has  no  jurisdiction  here.  My  partner  or  spouse  then  generally  accepts  I  have strong  issues  and  that  is  sufficient reason.   

I  would  be  the  last  person  to  support  trafficking, exploitation  or  procuring  a  person  as  a  bride  or  slave.     However  I  see  "dowry"  in a  totally  different  light,  understanding  its  cultural, social  and  functional  background,  and  its  wide  acceptance  certainly  in the  Asian  continent  and  in Africa (the  latter  tends  to  be  in cows).  As  a  result I   have  no  issues (and  support  in some  cultures) the  dowry  where  it  is  an established  practice.  I  would  consider  it  culturally  unacceptable  in those  cases  to  refuse  a  reasonable  dowry,  and  for  the  reasons  stated   find  it  problematic    to  debate  or  contest  dowry.  In this  context  it  is  often  handled  by  third  parties.

Saying  that I  respect  everyone  is  entitled  to  their  own  opinions.  If  I  am  marrying  a  foreign  lady  I  care  about I'm  probably  going  to  try  and  accommodate   her  reasonable  cultural   requests, and  requests  of  her  family   in terms  of  the  accepted  norms,  their  not  losing  face,  and  my  understanding  that  it  is  not  simply  a sale  / purchase  of a  human  being.    I  must  admit  my  respect  for  "little  sister's"  foreign  husband  who  initially  opposed  dowry  and  many  other  local   matters  different  from  his  own  culture,  but  in the  end  he  came  to  accept  and  embrace these  and  respect  for  other aspects  of  her Cambodian  culture. 

For  example   unlike  you,  Joe,  we  were  not  asked  to  meet  family  initially. We  found  it  strange  even  uncomfortable  not  to  meet  our  future  spouses  parents  early  on (as a father  myself  as a  foreigner  I would  like  to  see  who  my  daughter  is  dating),  but  realising  the  reasons  for  not  initially  meeting  my  future  mum-in-law (which  were  kindly  explained  by  a  female  Cambodian  boss)    there was  no  problem  to  accept  this  also. 

It  comes  back  to  an  intercultural  marriage  needs,  in my  opinion, to  be  about  both  parties   finding acceptable  compromises  between  their  cultures,   getting a  good  understanding  of  the  other  party's  culture  and  their   individual specific  circumstance,  establishing  if  there  are  "red lines"  and  hopefully  respecting  these.

Dear Chris,

I am extremely interested in this topic because I have Khmer online girlfriend now for 6 months and I plan to move to Cambodia in the cause of this year.
Although I am not a native English speaker, I think that I am, as author of many books, I am able to read more complex texts and I work with scientific documents in the English language.
Having said that, I really don't want to offent you, I was not able to read your posts. They read like fist thick NGO reports with as many words as possible without expressing or explaining your point of view!
I really tried, but your loose me in your stream of words. Please don't be offended, and take it as well ment criticism because I am very interested in your opinion!

Chris Nixon.

For the second time in a row you ignore my point re dowry. Now read this carefully so you pick up the meaning.
I have stated, also in other posts, that although I reject dowry [bride price] I come up with a solution that leaves everyone happy and nobody loses face. The end result of my solution is an even higher amount of money than in any bride price.

I tell you a story from my rural village in Thailand, where I lived 8 years and witnessed all aspects of traditional rural life. There was this young couple, both Thais and from the same village. They were married and had a daughter. But on a day they separated, the girl went to another village and was found there by an interested guy. So he married the girl, paid bride price and everything ok. Except, the girl didn't want to sleep with him and after two weeks she left him and went back to my village and to her ex husband.
Then the man's family came along to ask the bride price back, as the bride ran away after two weeks. But unfortunately the girl's parents had already bought a new motorbike so there was no money left. The man's parents never got their money back.

Girls are for sale. Yes, not all of course, but  it is possible to buy a girl away from her family. It happens in SE Asia, India, China and many more countries.
I guess you know of the existence of "second wives" in Cambodia? As the men are not fulfilled by one wife they have a second wife. This is also traditional and culture if you like. If a man rapes a girl he can consider marrying the girl and he will not go to jail. Also traditional. Even worse is the buying of virgins by powerful and/or rich Cambodian men. A family is approached and the 10-year old daughter is the subject of discussion. The rich man offers the family a large bag of rice every month until the girl is 12 years old. Then he takes the girl with him for one week, into a hotel where he abuses her every day. The family gets between $3000 and $5000 for this horrible event. This is also Cambodia. All three happenings I reject fiercely, and I don't care if they are tradition, culture or crimes, for me they are all proof of the dominant position of males and the totally low level of respect for women. A bride has to declare that she will "serve" her husband, if she wants to divorce, even after violence, she has to "ask" her husband and if he says no there will be no divorce. So far for traditional and cultural misbehaviour.

When in my Thai rural village rumours started that I had a generous alternative for bride price and knowing that I was divorced from my Thai wife on one day I was introduced to and offered a 14-year old girl to be my wife. I was so shocked that I didn't know what to say. You hear stories about it but this was happening to me, it was real.

I leave it at this, I could tell more about my time as volleyball coach of two girls groups in school, and the heart breaking stories of a few abused girls, abused in and by the family. I am no more an advocate of traditional life in SE Asia, I have seen too much wrong.

Chris NIxon, let us stop the discussion here, each has the right to his/her opinion but this thread was not meant to be a discussion platform but a way for members to express their experiences in ic relationships.



Dear  James
No  offence  taken.  Everyone  is  entitled  to  a  view and  your  comment  is  courteous  and  constructive  so is  well  received.  Sorry  you  did  not  understand  the  posts. 

Good  luck  with  your future  move  to  Cambodia   and  future  relationship.  I  am  sure  you  will  find  it  a  positive  and enriching  experience.  (aside,  you  obviously  have  interesting NGO experiences.  In my  limited NGO  experience  I  often  find  their  reports  are  short  unsubstantiated  sound  bytes  of  questionable  accuracy, as  you observe  not  coming  to a  point.)

So  with  apologies  for  earlier  post  not  being  clear, for  your  benefit I try  to  simplify my  personal  opinion  and  observation  by  bullet  points  ....

Cambodia  is a  lovely  country with  mostly lovely people but  like all  countries  it  has  some detractions.  For  me and  my  wife  the  positives  far outweigh the challenges in Cambodia. So  it  is  our  country  of  choice.   

Its truly Asian,  but  in  some aspects  not  entirely  comparable  to  its  neighbours.   For example, living and working in Vietnam  and  Thailand I  observed  some   significant  cultural / nationalistic  differences  and am  cautious  about  comparisons.

I  have  been based  here  more  than 20  years  and would  not  claim  to  be  expert, there is  always  a new  surprise. 

I  suggest useful  to  look  back  in Cambodia's  history  and  its  culture. The  books,   Chbabs   and local  idioms mentioned  in earlier  posts  I  find  insightful,  but  there  are  loads of  good references.   

I  really  recommend Asma's   book "The Gods Drink Whiskey:.....".  It  is  a  witty  but  very  insightful  view  of  Cambodia  and  the  cultural  surprises  Asma  encountered as  a  American  Buddhist, who came  to  work teach  in Cambodia  at Phnom Penh's Buddhist Institute.   

My  suggestion   is  look  below  the  often  superficial   stereotypes  and  sound  bytes that  are  sometimes   heard  in the  expat  community.  It  can  take  time  but  get  involved  with normal  working  and  business Cambodia  families,  and  social  life. 

I  have  heard  a  lot  of  scepticism  expressed about  intercultural relationships in Cambodia.  Indeed  my own marriage  to  a  younger  Cambodian  lady  was  subject to  some  some  fairly  cynical  comments  by  colleagues.   But I agree  with  Joe  that  I also  know of  a  good  number Cambodian / foreigner couples  that  have  that  have  very  happy and  durable  marriages.   

Joe  raised a  point  that  ".....Other than you I face the rule that I cannot marry a Cambodian girl,.....".  I  have  now  knowledge  of  Joe's  circumstances   and  not  my place to  comment. 

As a  general  observation there  has been  an  issue  in recent  years  that particularly older foreigners  face   difficulty  getting the required government consent to marry  Cambodian  ladies.  Marriage  is  highly  valued  in Cambodia, especially  by  the  ladies  and their families. 

Both  young  and  older  foreigners,  are  still  marrying  Cambodian  ladies, marrying  them abroad (e.g. my  wifes "brother-in-law"  married  in Australia, and  another friend  recently  married  in Denmark and  returned  with  his  wife  to Cambodia). The  marriages  are  recognised  in Cambodia  when they return.   Alternatively  other  friends  are  having  the  Cambodian  marriage  celebration  and   function  but  no   official  Cambodia legal  paperwork  and  this  seems  acceptable  to  the  ladies  and  families

I  have  lived  and  worked  in a  number of Asian  cultures  but  Cambodia  still  holds  surprises. My Cambodian  wife  is  the what  is referred to as  "per-y-ear" [bad  phonetics  sorry]  which  is  Sanskrit / Khmer  something like  "....The thing  so  valuable I would  take  it with me  everywhere.....". I would  not  make a  disrespectful  remark about  her,  but add two  of  her  own  joke  comments  illustrating  cultural  differences  and  challenges: 
(a) "The  Afghans  did  not  make  my  husband  crazy [ch'goo-ut], we  Cambodians  got  to  him  first"   and
(b) "Cambodian  men  go  crazy  because  they  marry  Cambodian  ladies".   

Those  lighthearted  jokes  by  a  Cambodian lady,   say  something  about  the   unpredictable but  also  fun  and  sometimes  confusing  aspects our  relationship.   Equally  I  know  some  of  my  foreigner  habits  and  values  are   beyond  her  understanding  or logic.    It  is  a  case  of  being  patient,  take  time  to  understand the  other point  of  view,   try  to  find  middle  ground  and  compromises.

Hopefully  more  clear, and less  perceived as "NGO-like".

Dear Chris,

Thanks you for taking my comment so well! I was doubting whether to post it because I didn't want to offend anyone, but i was sure most of the readers would have the same experience. I did understand what you were writing, but lost focus and interest due to the flow of words. Your last post was much so much better!

I try to read as much as I can about living in Cambodia and her culture and value Joe's posts greatly but do not always agree with him (not often). I have experienced some of his views myself now and thanks to his advises I can deal with them. Khmer woman being jealous and going into silent mode are typical and they jump to conclusions much too fast. When I write: I am tired, she thinks it means I want to stop chatting, although chatting with her relaxes me.

I have been married once and my GF too, and I am very glad that to my big surprise my GF has no intentions of getting married again. But when everything goes well I could consider some kind of alternative wedding ceremony in her village where her family lives. But I will never pay any dowtry, but Joe's system would work fine for me. My GF is working in PP now as a teacher and supports her family.

I think it is important to know the background of the life of your GF/wife. The story of my GF is so typical and illustrating for Cambodia. Her father left her mother with 3 kids without any money or support. The kids had to be raised in an orphanage because mother was so poor she could not pay for food. My GF was selected and got her education paid by an American philanthrope (paying for education is the best thing to do!). At 20, she married a foreigner under pressure of her family, but due to restrictions, he got not take her to his country and now she was left alone and full of shame and worries of not finding another good man because she was "second hand".

Quite a special story but this happened to thousands and thousands woman in Cambodia.

But... Sometimes my GF is lauching about me because I tell/ask her about old fashioned Kmher traditions and culture. Than she makes it clear that Khmer culture and family are very important but that Cambodia is changing very fast and that there is a hugh difference between the rural life and the PP city life in Cambodia. She is supporting her family, but has many discussions with her mother and brother who still live on the countryside.

Good  luck,  James, with  your  future  travels  to  Cambodia  and  best  wishes  for  a  successful  relationship.  I  can  well  understand  your  challenges  as  my  wife  is  from a  poor  rural  family, with  a widowed  mum.  Its  not  always  easy,  but  what  valuable relationship  is  and  its  worth  working  and  persevering.   I  hope  you (and  others)   can  be  as  happy  as  we  have  been  the  last  14+  years, not  just  as  couple  but  with  the  extended  family.

Hi  Joe,
I was a little  surprised  by   your  observations  on Cambodian  divorce  and  the  limited  rights  of  women  to  divorce  in Cambodia,  as  you  report.   

Traditionally  Cambodia  has  been  considered as  based  in  matriarchial  roots  and the  Cambodia  1999 constitution (I  think Article 45 ??) expressly  protects  the  rights  of  women.  As a  result  there  is a plethora  of NGOs  targeting  abuses  of womens  rights.

Also in the  course  of  my  work I am  required  to  be  familiar with aspects of  the Cambodian Civil Code. Although marriage law  is  not  my  field I  remembered  reading  about   the  rights  on marriage, divorce, protections marital  property  and  estate  at  the  time  I was  preparing  my  will  here  in Cambodia.  Its  quite  heavy  reading   so  I  had  the  assistance  of  our  lawyer (an Expatriate / Cambodia law  firm who  assists  us  with  conveyancing, immigration, tax  advice, etc)  to  get it  right  on aspects  of matrimonial  property, inheritances, etc  relating  to  will  (and  any divorce ??)

I  do  not want to  appear argumentative  or  expert  as  I am  not.  But  for  your  benefit  and  any  readers interested  (or  wanting  to  assist  / advise any  of  these  ladies)  and as a  warning  to  anyone  thinking  to  take  advantage  of  ladies,   I  would  suggest  obtain a reliable unofficial  translation (there is  no  official translation)  of  the  Cambodian  Civil Code  2007.  This  is  the  newest  base law  of  Cambodia.  The Cambodian Civil Code of 2007 adequately regulates most aspects of marriage, including the age of marriageability, registration, marital property, and household expenses, divorce, inheritance, etc, etc. Cambodian law additionally protects married women from domestic violence, bigamy and desertion. Its  actually  interesting  reading.

Being  realistic  the  problem  is  that application of  the  law  (and  constitutional  protections)  relating  to  marriages   only apply to legally registered marriages, whereas there are many unregistered marriages. Practically it  is  also  a  case  of  whether people  want  to  resort  to  the  law (many  Cambodians  will  not)  and  have  the  finances  to  do  so.   This  is  not  unique  to  Cambodia, and  divorces  are always  traumatic  and  expensive in any  country (though  there are NGO  programmes  available  especially  to  help  women). 

Additionally  the   former social  codes  mentioned  earlier ("Chbab Srey"  and "Chbab Bros") although  not  permitted  to  be taught now,  have  entrenched some social  perceptions  and expectations negatively  for  women.

However under  the  law, while desertion is not a criminal act,  bigamy and desertion are both grounds for a wife to pursue a divorce and claim her matrimonial rights.  She  does  not  need  husbands  consent.

I  can  can  confirm   the  law  is  applied ...  even  in my  wife's  poor  village  there  has  been  divorces,  and  we purchased  land   which  became  available  through a divorce  settlement.

In summary  in Cambodia (I  can't comment  about  your  Thai  experiences,  in relation to  Cambodia)  the  legal  rights  of  women  is  maybe not  quite  as  bad  as  you  suggest. 

For  information  or  interest  there  is   available  the  law  (Cambodian Civil Code 2007, unofficial  translation)  and also  a  useful  and quite  practical  assessment  published  by the  Cambodia  Law  and Policy  Journal   as "Legal and Gender Issues of Marriage and Divorce in Cambodia".

Hopefully  that  assists,  is  balanced  and  accurate.

Chris Nixon.

Just a short answer.

You live with your head in the clouds and in books, you have no idea what is going on in reality, you have not read about women get killed by their husbands because they asked for divorce. You have no knowledge that the village head is the first one to be counseled and as they are mostly men they try to mediate and send the woman back home with the message try again, and again and again.

Read the newspapers instead of fancy books and laws, read what happens in reality. I do that and it is horrible. Women, certainly in rural areas, have about no rights, and even when "rights" are mentioned in the law, there is no law enforcement, plus nearly all officials are men.

You also seem to miss that Cambodian men, as Thai men, have major problems with reject ion. Those that have such a fragile ego will not accept rejection, divorce, and as they are also extremely jealous they could even kill their ex wife e.g. 3 years after divorce. So far for the rights of women.

You are right that divorces are processed, but be aware that those divorces are the ones where the man agrees to divorce. When the man does not agree, the woman is in trouble, be it that she cannot divorce or in physical danger. Men consider their wife as a possession, made worse by the fact they paid money for her [bride price].

There is also a lot of domestic violence, surely in the rural areas. Man comes home in the night, drunk, and wants sex, the woman refuses and gets beaten up or even killed. This is on a much larger scale than reported as many women don't dare to report their husband for domestic violence, on top the law enforcement officers consider domestic violence as a private matter, not a crime.

I quote Licadho's Women's Rights Monitoring Office:

On paper, men and women enjoy equal rights in Cambodia, but the situation can be much different in reality. In particular, crimes such as sexual abuse and domestic violence often go uninvestigated and unpunished, thanks to official corruption, a culture of impunity and a culture of silence surrounding crimes that occur within the home.

You should read what they publish and encounter, here the link: … office.php

I close now as this topic is more about Cambodian lack of rights for women. But as the thread is about ic relationships, this shows why a large and growing part of those women that are fed up with Cambodian men try to find a reliable foreigner, even if there is a large age gap.

As I said before I know a lot of happy ic couples and although some relationships fail, their rate is not higher than the Western divorce rate of I believe 1 in 4 marriages.



Dear Joe,

You are al little harsh on Chris. He seems to be to me a very nice, good hearted guy with good intentions. But I have also the impression that he is what we call a paper tiger. He produces words like a waterfall (strange thing for me to write as an author). I think you are both right. Chris on paper and you in reality. Your experiences are completely in line with the stories I hear from my GF. She tells me a lot about what is going on in her family.

I hope that Chris his advice can help some woman. In the end, Cambodia will also develop in this matter to a more modern society. A few days ago we had womens rights day celebrated so there is at least some focus on this problem.


Well cris does seem like a nice guy and so is jo I know him personally, you would like him, but I’ve been here three years , and jo is right the law might say one thing the reality is most policemen, and courts are men who do not usually side with the woman, but nice conversation

I like the way JoeKhmer tells it - and my experiences are very similar. I am afraid that I gave up reading most of what Chris Nixon wrote through boredom in processing a tsunami of unnecessary long-winded verbosity. I think JoeKhmer is the best writer on this forum (I have never met him in person) and I see no point in Chris Nixon criticising him when I feel he (Joe) knows best.

Here here!

What a load of bollocks

Not very articulate

Learn the language,lack of morals,principles,scruples,etticut,humanity,etc,etc,it's a shite hole!!

Pete utley :

Learn the language,lack of morals,principles,scruples,etticut,humanity,etc,etc,it's a shite hole!!

This thread is about intercultural relationships. Do your last two words represent your opinion?

On top you must have learned in school to put a space after a comma, makes text easier to read.



I think what’s not being said is that you can’t project your cultural attitudes from the west and relate it to a relationship in Asia, women do not have the financial ability that a man does much like the USA in the 40s - 1960 s, women in Asia are not payed as well, and are not considered equal employees by many, there fore the giving of money each month to your partner, it’s not pay for sex , I know it’s viewed that way in the West , of course my ex wife is a eye surgeon and makes 750 gs a year, so you have to be here a while to understand that it’s not paying a woman to stay with you, it’s a equal exchange , in fact I’ve found the women many times works harder than men, and if a man has a business his woman is working along side him, it’s just the opportunity’s are still limited for females , jo has been around and I think if you listen to him he knows what he’s talking about , Dating in Asia is so totally different you can’t compare the two , but just because you give your girlfriend, wife / partner money does not make her or him a whore on the contrary women in Cambodia are very modest, and anything but promiscuous!

My reply sums up intercultural relationships comma , Joey.


If you want to troll, take Khmer440 of CEO, they like trolling there!

New topic