Rent-a-groom

June 27, 2009
Some female factory workers in Binh Duong and nearby Ho Chi Minh City are hiring instant husbands after they fall pregnant and their lovers flee

Ha Hiep still keeps the wedding photo in her rented room in Binh Duong Province so that anytime her little son asks about his father, she has someone to point to.

The boy believes that his father is away on important business and will return eventually.

Hiep’s parents in far-away Ha Tinh Province are just as deceived and think she is living happily with the handsome young man they met at the wedding.

Only Hiep knows that the nuptials were a sham, and that the man was a total stranger she had met for the first time minutes before the ceremony.

It might sound unreal but more girls in Binh Duong and nearby Ho Chi Minh City are hiring instant husbands after they fall pregnant and their lovers flee.

The garment worker recalled how she had fallen in love with the student next door and stayed with him for several years before the “accident” occurred while the others were out.

“When he ran away, I was filled with hate but I could not leave the child,” Hiep said. “And I didn’t want my parents’ reputation to suffer.”

So she decided on a fake wedding.

The banquet halls that arrange the deception find suitable good-looking bridegrooms among their waiters, college students and local xe om drivers.

Phuong also from Binh Duong found herself in a similar predicament. She graduated from college and quickly found a good job at an import-export company in downtown HCMC.

Phuong became the object of the director’s affection after three months in the job. Her boss even promised to marry Phuong, but was quick to sack her once he learned she was pregnant.

She didn’t want an abortion, she dared not give birth alone in the city, yet she didn’t want to harm her parents’ good standing in their community by going home.

She too resorted to a sham wedding.

The banquet hall charged her VND1 million for the bridegroom and VND2 million for a few other people to play the in-laws. Phuong had to buy the groom’s wedding outfit and the dowry he was supposed to give her.

At the wedding party, her family felt proud to see their daughter hitched to a city man. Mission accomplished.

Unexpected income

Phan Hoang Lan has been paying his way through college for several years by playing the groom.

His new career came about when he was a part-time waiter at a banquet hall on Cach Mang Thang Tam Street in HCMC.

One day, out of the blue, the manager asked if he could play the role of bridegroom for VND1 million.

“I needed money to pay my tuition fee, so I accepted,” Lan said. “The next day a woman with a big belly came and took me to get a wedding photo. I was really scared but she was crying, so I went. After the photo was taken, she bought me a pair of shoes and a new, expensive suit.”

More such requests followed, in fact, so many that he had to farm the work out to young men of his acquaintance.

Hoang, who has been acting the groom for more than five years at a banquet hall in Binh Duong, said most of the girls he “married” were factory workers living far from home.

“The first time, I did it because I felt sorry for the girl, but it soon became just a source of income.”

One of his clients was an avowed lesbian whose family strongly objected to her sexual orientation and insisted that she marry a man.

“Sometimes I get scared about the future. What would happen if my wife happened to see the wedding photos with me in there?” Hoang said.

Tran Van Dang, who manages a banquet hall in Thu Duc District, is reluctant about providing the service but knows he will lose potential customers if he takes a principled stand.

“Anyway, it helps the girls avoid getting a bad reputation at home,” he said. “Yet every time I see a girl trying her best to smile, I feel sad.”

Source: Tuoi Tre

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