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Asian Women in the Faroe Islands

Written by Dr. Runa

In the year 2000 I moved to the Faroe Islands, a small group of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean. The Faroe Islands belong to the kingdom of Denmark and has a small population of 54 thousand ppl. The Islands is still considered as a homogeneous and monocultural society.


I moved to Denmark in 2009 to pursue my studies and moved back to the Faroe Islands in 2016. The first thing i noticed was a Demographic change – women from East Asian countries were part of society. Most of those women were married to the Faroe men.  Just as in other parts of the world, the Faroe Islands was also experiencing migration, where marriage migration is becoming quite common. 


Unfortunately, there are some consequences when those women choose marriage migration. Some women experience stigmatisation and stereotyping. They often loose their agency and are commodified – they are often being perceived as only someone’s wife or simply as a foreigner. But they are more than that. In small place like the Faroe Islands, your background and which family you belong to, is of great importance; migrant women often find themselves without a history in the Faroese community – and this causes a loss of agency and may even cause a loss of identity.  


Through my research I was able to break some of the stigmatization and stereotypes of them as women – by giving them a voice to tell their own story. A voice, to tell why they moved to the Faroe Islands – a voice, for us to see them, as human beings with agency – human beings able to make rational choices. A voice, to create a bridge for them as newcomers into the receiving community. A voice, to create understanding of why they chose to migrate; and to continue the story of their life in the Faroe Islands. As those women, are not only wives, or mothers, but women who have a rich story to tell about their life in their home country, women with different dreams and goals in life.


Research has shown that Asian women experience stigmatization in the US, Denmark, UK and other European countries .They are often stigmatised as mail order brides, poor, submissive or uneducated – or in need of a man to save them. My research and other research has falsified this stigmatisation - many of those women are highly educated, but unfortunately they are often marginalised to unskilled work as their credentials are not recognised in the receiving country. 


My research has shown that one main reason why these women choose marriage migration, is because they want equality – Equality in their marriage, equality as women and equality as citizens both in their home country and the receiving country. They want to be respected as equal in their relationship. Furthermore, they told me that they are not attracted to the gender relationships in their home country – they want to be independent women and wish not to live up to the expectations that their family and society has of them as women.


I must say that I feel honoured, that I was able to give some of those women a voice. I feel honoured they trusted me with their story. I feel honoured I was able to create a bridge in order for Faroese people to see those women as rational individuals, who are able to take rational choices for their lives. 


There  is a need for migrant  women to be heard both in their home country and in the receiving country – we have to start somewhere, and research is also a way of giving women a voice.


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