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Childless foreign spouse should get disaster relief: rights watchdog

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

The National Human Rights Commission said on Wednesday that it advised a local government to pay disaster relief to the foreign spouse of a Korean national as it is unfair to exclude her just because the couple is childless.

The couple signed up for emergency disaster relief from their local government in April, but only the Korean national received the money as per related ordinance.

The ordinance stipulates that whatever is not stated in the ordinance should be handled according to the National Basic Living Security Act or the Emergency Aid and Support Act.

Article 5-2 on special cases concerning foreigners stipulates that a foreign national staying in Korea who is pregnant while married to a Korean national, has a minor child of Korean nationality, or earns a livelihood or dwells together with his or her spouses’ relatives of Korean nationality, and is eligible to be paid benefits under this Act, shall become an eligible recipient.

The petitioner’s spouse did not meet any of the above conditions as the couple was childless.

The human rights watchdog said, “The purpose of the emergency disaster relief is to help those in the blind spots of the welfare system by supporting households going through temporary hardship due to COVID-19, and stimulate the regional economy.”

“Considering its purpose, there is no reason to view foreign spouses without a child of Korean nationality differently.”

To the local government, the watchdog explained, “The article on special cases concerning foreigners was added to the National Basic Living Security Act for the welfare of Korean nationals raised or taken care of by foreign spouses. It is inappropriate to apply this standard when selecting the recipients of an emergency disaster relief, which has a different purpose.”

The rights commission recommended the local government improve its rules, saying its exclusion of the foreign spouse was “an act of discrimination in the supply or use of goods based on the (recipients’) form of family.”

By Kim So-hyun (sophie@heraldcorp.com)
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