Two thousand, two thousand, do I hear two thousand? Sold! One, Russian, obedient bride to the man in the black hat.
Forget the nice dinner, awkward small talk, dropping her off at the end of the night and hoping for a call later. That’s too old fashion. Most are looking for the next new thing, whether it is technology, fashion, or even dating. The University of Alabama Health Sciences would argue that dating has evolved from colonial era courtships to modern day online matchmaking. Sites like Match.com and eHarmony boast successful industry records as online dating receives greater acclaim as an acceptable dating norm. A research article published by PR Newswire states “Recent studies of more than 11,000 people revealed that one in six marriages are now between people who met through an online dating site.” Moreover, 1 in 5 committed relationships were initiated through online dating sites and the same odds apply to number of singles who have taken advantage of these sites. These statistics show the achievements of online dating and why it is the third most popular way to meet people.
However, with every triumph there is failure. In this case, that failure is seen in the often oppressive and exploitative practice of mail order brides.
Google produced 1,740,000 results for the term “mail order bride” – many advertising the perfect lifetime servant, a future wife, and of course fast service. The normal profile of a mail order bride is an Asian, Eastern-European, or Latin American female motivated by social and economic reasons, and sometimes by her family. The typical profile of the buyeris a western, educated, and financially stable male.
Bloomberg Businessweek published an article on the subject, and according to the non-profit organization, Tahirih Justice Center, the number of mail order marriages doubled between 1999 and 2007 in the U.S. In 2010, this market reeled in more than $2 million in revenue. Business seems to be booming in this industry; however, organizations such as the National Human Trafficking Resource Center argue that it’s not so different from human trafficking.
Sonia Ossorio, the executive director of the NYC chapter of the National Organization for Women, cites it as a softer version of human trafficking, attracting customers who are looking for a “docile and obedient” woman. One mail order bride company, Hand-in-Hand, proudly markets its women as “unspoiled by feminism.”
Human Trafficking.org posted a 2006 study by Jen Marchbank at Simon Fraser University that exposed a hefty number of the mail order brides coming to Canada lack knowledge of their rights and face immense peril of being exploited. In 2009, Change.org also proclaimed that mail order brides are susceptible to human trafficking, exploitation, abuse, rape, and domestic violence.
Though certain countries have legislation regulating this practice, such laws are often limited and not well enforced. This leaves thousands of women vulnerable to be exploited by illegal marriage brokers who trade their freedom for cash.
Perhaps the notion of convenience should be left out of the love equation.