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At 16, Safariyas is about to marry a man she has never met on Phuket

Phuket Bride at 16: Wedding Photos from a Hillside Camp

Monday, July 9, 2012
PHUKET: Her name is Safariyas, she is 16 years old, and she is about to marry a man she has never met until this moment.

This is the Phuket that tourists do not see. The Phuket where a 16-year-old becomes a bride, just four days after her father arranges her marriage.

The wedding night? She will probably ask the groom for his name, or he will ask for hers.

The bride and her groom, Fayea, 28, had never met before their wedding ceremony on Sunday.

For Safariyas, it is a difficult day. She manages a half-smile once or twice at friends, but for most of the time, she sits impassively, looking like a bride in her white finery, but unsmiling.

The location where the wedding takes place is in a five-star part of the island, but back in the hills.

This is where some of the people who build Phuket's resorts and villas try to retain their traditions, in a hand-made camp for about 50 families.

The rain has been falling so the earthen path to the camp is slippery and too treacherous, even for motorcycles.

On July 4, independence day for some, Safariyas lost her freedom when her father announced at the Kalim mosque, on Phuket's west coast, that he had a daughter of marriageable age.

Did anyone know of a suitable husband?

A friend suggested Fayea and four days later, with the dowry fixed at one baht-weight of gold and 30,000 baht in cash, Fayea and his bride are getting married.

He rents a room. He sells roti. The couple will have a home after the ceremony.

Her family is Burmese Muslim, from near Victoria Point, opposite Ranong, where many westerners from Phuket do their visa runs.

Fayea has his documents to work in Thailand and he is a Rohingya, from further north in Burma. The couple do not speak the same language, but people say they will have enough in common to be able to communicate.

Guests at the wedding celebrate with a fine lamb curry and some games. Young men, including the groom, are delayed from entering by two women suspending a gold necklet, and asking for financial contributions.

Meanwhile, the documents are signed and Fayea and Safariyas formally become man and wife.

Like her parents, 16-year-old Safariyas has been working on a Phuket construction site. It is never made clear whether she has ever been to school.

But the signed papers show that yesterday, at 16, she became a bride.

From now on, her life will be as a home-maker for Fayea, and probably as the mother of his children.

Comments

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Interesting story.

I know age of consent is 15y here but do you know what is the required legal age to marry ?

I wonder if marriage to a legal foreign resident changes her status too (in case she's not legal here), i.e. is she eligible for a spousal visa ?

Posted by Andrew on July 9, 2012 22:30

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Dear editor,

What was the purpose of this article? To show we must respect islamic traditions on Phuket? Regardless of how archaic these traditions are?

What is your and your "paper's" view on what you described above? It would be interesting to hear.

Posted by Janice on July 10, 2012 04:21

Editor Comment:

There is no ''purpose'' behind the article, Janice, although one of the tenets of American journalism is ''to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.'' Some people on Phuket are rich, others are poor. Some are greedy, others are needy. We simply report what we see and hear.

As the summary paragraph says: Phuket is a remarkably diverse destination where some of the world's richest celebrities holiday alongside people who strive for every baht. This is one couple's wedding story.

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Editor,
Thank you for taking the time to feature this human interest story about a kind of culture we never hear about in Phuket. As I am interested in how the people live who are Burmese, I look forward to more stories.

Posted by Vfaye on July 10, 2012 16:00

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Dear ED, all the times images can say more than words.. and I understood what u wanted to say: this made me very sad.

Posted by dave on July 10, 2012 19:34

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It's a great story because it reveals lives and cultures which exist around us. For which normally, most of us are completely ignorant. Thanks for the story . . .

Posted by J on July 10, 2012 20:06

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Thanks for the interesting insight to how other people live their lives here in Phuket itself. Small island but so many facets to it.

Posted by May on July 12, 2012 17:50

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Excellent journalism; imaginative, colourful, instructive of how life is, for some on this Island Paradise. Phuket Wan excels at being a ''real'' publication - unlike bigger competitors which have lost their way, I'm afraid. Except for Woody !!

Posted by Don on July 15, 2012 15:06

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"It's a great story because it reveals lives and cultures which exist around us. For which normally, most of us are completely ignorant." Good comment. May I humbly suggest a good read into indigenous cultures that shame our ignorance of them: 'Wild' by Jay Griffiths. A jolting read.

Posted by Sam W on July 15, 2012 19:53


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