Mail-order bride is a label applied to a woman who publishes her intent to marry someone from another – usually more financially developed – country. Historically, mail-order brides were women who listed themselves in catalogs and were selected by men for marriage. Sometimes the men and women involved were citizens of different countries, e.g. women from European countries moving to the United States during the 18th and 19th centuries, and sometimes they involved citizens of the same country.
On November 18, 2004, a federal jury in Baltimore, Maryland awarded Ukrainian mail-order bride Nataliya Fox $433,500 ($341,000 of which were punitive damages) against international marriage broker Encounters International and its Russian immigrant owner, Natasha Spivack (pictured above). Spivack arranged Nataliya’s marriage to an American man with a history of violently abusing women and who, after being matched with Nataliya, abused her over the course of their marriage. The jury found the marriage broker guilty of fraud, unfair and deceptive trade practices, willful and wanton negligence, unauthorized appropriation of Ms. Fox’s name and likeness, and defamation. The jury found the mail order bride company (Natasha Spivak) liable for failing to tell Nataliya about a federal law that allows foreign nationals to escape abusive marriages without fear of automatic deportation, and for actively misleading her about her legal options. The jury also found EI (Natasha Spivak) liable for misrepresenting that it screened male clients when it did not; and publicizing Nataliya’s marriage to Mr. Fox as an EI “success” story, without her permission, even after she fled to a domestic violence shelter.
There is a lot of money to be made in the mail order bride industry. In Taiwan, mail-order brides are sourced primarily from Mainland China and Southeast Asia, especially Vietnam. The common age range for Vietnam women range from 20 to 28 years of age. On average, Taiwanese men spend USD $10,000 on this type of marriage; however, only USD $500 to USD $1,000 dollars will be received by the bride’s family and the remainder taken by marriage brokers of the groom and the bride. That is a damn high profit margin.
Mail Order Husbands
The Philippines prohibits the business of organizing or facilitating marriages between Filipinas and foreign men. The Philippine congress enacted Republic Act 6955 or the Anti-Mail-Order Bride Law in 1990 as a result of stories that appeared in the local press and media about Filipinas being abused by their foreign husbands. Because of this, Filipinas often use “reverse publications” – publications in which men advertise themselves – to contact foreign men for marriage on behalf of the Filipina women.
Since 2003 Australian Federal Government’s resolve to decrease what was deemed ‘inappropriate immigration’ by then-Prime Minister John Howard has gained momentum. Initial reactions to the program were mixed. The Australian public further embraced their government’s new policies following the media frenzy of the Jana Klintoukh case; this case first exploded into the public’s view when current events program, Today Tonight, aired footage of a young Russian-born Australian, claiming she was imported via an Internet site and was used as a sexual slave by her ‘husband’ while being confined to his Sydney home.
Johns Hopkins University offers a course called “Mail Order Brides: Understanding the Philippines in Southeast Asian Context” which is supposedly a deep look into Filipino kinship and gender. Why a person would want to study this subject is beyond me, but there must be at least a small amount of demand out there.
How To Meet
At least two types of “international marriage agencies” exist. The first type sells female clients’ contact information and encourages men and women to correspond prior to meeting. The second type offers “group tours” for men who want to travel around a foreign country and meet up to a hundred women at social events organized by the agency. If an American male wishes to use the first type, they must supply mental health information and criminal history, and, if they do make a match, will eventually be required to meet the bride in person before she can obtain a US visa.
The concept of mail-order brides was first seen on the American frontier during the mid-1800s. Men from the East were migrating West in hopes of claiming land, farming, establishing businesses, and finding gold. Most of these men found financial success in the migration West, but the one thing that was missing was the company of a wife. Very few women lived in the West at this time, so it was hard for these men to settle down and start a family. Their only choice was to attract women living back East; the men wrote letters to churches and published personal advertisements in magazines and newspapers. In return, the women would write to the men and send them photographs of themselves.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reports that “…marriages arranged through [mail order bride] services would appear to have a lower divorce rate than the nation as a whole, fully 80 percent of these marriages having lasted over the years for which reports are available.” The USCIS also reports that “… mail-order bride and e-mail correspondence services result in 4,000 to 6,000 marriages between U.S. men and foreign brides each year.”
Being a mail-order bride can be very dangerous. There are at least four recent cases of American men murdering (sometimes quite brutally) their mail-order bride. But it does go both ways: there is also a case of a mail-order bride murdering her American husband. Before involving yourself in the mail order marriage industry, it pays to really consider the reasons behind your future wife or husband using this method to find their partner for life. You might get lucky and meet someone leaving their home country for the reasons but you might be one of the unlucky ones who ends up dead. here is the description of just one such case:
Anastasia King, a young woman from Kyrgyzstan, was found strangled and buried in a shallow grave in Washington state in December 2000. At the age of 18, Anastasia had received an email from a 38-year-old Seattle man, Indle King, from a mail order bride website. He flew to her country and they were married soon after. Two years later, after considerable strife, Indle wanted another bride. He was allegedly unwilling to pay for a divorce so he ordered a tenant in their Washington home to kill Anastasia. Weighing nearly 300 pounds, her husband pinned Anastasia down while the tenant strangled her with a necktie. Both were convicted of murder.
The Sweet Escape
Most people think that Russian brides are desperate women who want nothing more than to marry a foreigner (preferably American) to get the hell out of Russia and start a new life. But in fact, this is almost always incorrect. Russia has a man shortage; there are roughly 8 men for every 10 women in a culture which is very marriage-oriented. Consequently, many Russian women are compelled to look outside of Russia for a husband. As one mail order bride company says: “[Russian Brides] feel as if you were one of the guys who would approach her at a bar: where she can say, “yes” if she likes you, and “thanks, but no, thanks” if she doesn’t.”