SINGAPORE - There has been a sharp rise in the number of foreign women seeking protection from violent Singaporean husbands, exposing a dark side to the growing trend of men marrying women from other parts of Asia.
Most of the women said they endured regular slapping, beatings, verbal abuse and psychological bullying, and were threatened that they would be sent home and separated from their children if they reported the abuse.
Many turned to the courts for protection only after years of abuse when they could no longer put up with it or felt their lives were in danger, social workers said. Most of the abused foreign women that social workers help are from China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
A spokesman for the Subordinate Courts told The Sunday Times that about 10 per cent of all requests for personal protection orders (PPOs) filed over the past three years were made by foreign wives against their fist-happy husbands.
This is a sharp jump from about 2 per cent to 3 per cent in the five preceding years. It means there were about 300 applications by foreign wives each year in the past three years, compared to about 50 to 90 previously.
A PPO is a court order to restrain an abuser from laying hands on his family members, and he can be fined or even jailed if he breaches the order and turns violent again. In some cases, the abuser can also be barred from entering the home.
The surge in foreign wives seeking PPOs comes amid an overall increase - last year, the Subordinate Courts received 3,073 new applications, the highest number in the past decade, and up 7 per cent from 2011.
Social workers say rising awareness has made victims more willing to seek PPOs and end family violence. The bulk of the cases involved people seeking protection from abusive spouses. In the past three years, just over half of the PPOs were filed by wives against their violent husbands, and 11 per cent by husbands against wives.