Mail Order Brides Essay

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In industrialized nations including the United States, some men desire to locate women from outside their own country for the purpose of marriage. In the past, listings of women interested in such a marriage primarily came through correspondence by mail and through pen pal clubs, giving them the name mail order brides. Today, there are hundreds of different services available to men who seek a bride from another country, including the use of the Internet, magazines, and brochures with photos and descriptions of women.

The extent to which such marriages succeed and are fulfilling to both partners is unknown. Physical, sexual, and psychological abuse of mail order brides has been reported. The circumstances surrounding these marriages present risk for violence against women, and there is a growing body of research on this topic. Risk factors include that the women have little opportunity to assess the character of the men they are marrying and men are not screened by agencies for prior abuse history or failed international marriages. Many of the men possess characteristics that may be associated with a greater likelihood of partner violence. Some seek marriage to women from outside the United States due to dissatisfaction with North American women who they view as too aggressive, demanding, and liberal. Men seeking mail order brides frequently report a desire for a more submissive, traditional wife. Women may be at increased risk for partner violence especially when they speak little or no English; have no social support system in their new communities; have no personal finances to leave an abusive husband; lack formal education, training, or marketable work skills to be independent; and are unaware of their rights in the United States in regard to reporting domestic violence and to special provisions available to abused immigrant women to help them avoid revocation of visas if they divorce.

Today, the largest number of mail order brides available to men in the United States comes from Southeast Asia, including the Philippines; Russia; and other countries of the former Soviet Union. Women seek a better life in the United States and often are from countries where war or other hardships have led to lower life expectancies for males and a reduction in the number of marriageable or desirable men.

Customarily men pay for contact information for women they find interesting and initiate correspondence with them either via the Internet or mail. A lucrative and mostly unregulated international marriage agency business has developed to provide services such as translating correspondence between clients who do not speak a common language and arranging excursions where a man is introduced to a number of women interested in marriage and immigration to the United States. Men may pay $3,000 to $10,000 for such arrangements. There is also evidence that listings of women seeking marriage to men in other countries are used by traffickers who contact the women, arrange travel to a foreign destination ostensibly for the purpose of marriage, and then take their papers and force them into prostitution.

Bibliography:

  1. Belleau, M. (2003). Mail-order brides in a global world. Albany Law Review, 67(2), 595–607.
  2. Chun, C. (1996). The mail-order bride industry: The perpetuation of transnational economic inequalities and stereotypes. University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Economic Law, 17, 1155–1183.
  3. Raj, A., & Silverman, J. (2002). Violence against immigrant women. Violence Against Women, 8(3), 367–398.

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