Saturday, May 05, 2007

Mail Order Brides

Ralph Jennings, Reuter's man in Taipei, talks about the mail order bride phenomenon here in many brides are here? Vietnamese brides are the island's largest non-Chinese immigrant group...

The story of women such as Nguyen has prompted Taiwan and Vietnam -- whose 75,000 nationals are the island's largest non-Chinese immigrant group -- to get tougher on cross-border marriages to stop fraud and illegal residency following break-ups.

Taiwan men looking for "mail-order brides" are partial to Vietnamese women who they consider to be particularly submissive, matchmakers say. Often left on the shelf by local women, these men are looking for wives willing to have babies and help their aging parents, the matchmakers add.

Men often enlist friends and business contacts in their wife search. But the popularity of Vietnamese brides is so great that there is now a prime time television show that broadcasts photographs and biographical data of prospective wives.

Those who prefer a more personal approach use the services of about 300 marriage brokers operating in Taiwan who organize wife shopping trips to Vietnam at costs that range from $900 to $10,000 for stays up to one week.

The article goes on to describe some of the legal changes the system is going through to prevent the abuses. As this article from a Washington state paper notes, it is a problem in the US as well.

The mail-bride industry is especially popular in rural areas of Washington, where foreign wives who speak little English can be isolated and kept from knowing their rights and options. "Aside from anecdotes about abuse, we don't yet know the scope of the problem. It's only when someone gets murdered that we hear about it," Basu said.

But even in cities fear is a controlling factor. When the Women's Center held its first on-campus conference, the grieving parents of Anastasia King spoke. And, afterward, Basu said six young women -- like Anastasia, all tall blondes from Eastern European countries -- told her they, too, were in abusive relationships they couldn't escape. One was a UW medical student.

They all told Basu they were afraid to come forward partly because they claimed that the Russian mafia controls the brokerages that brought them here. These businesses boast of shining "95 percent success rates" they don't want tarnished. So, if they divorced, the women feared reprisals against family members still at home.

Just type "mail order brides" in Google. Frightening.

1 comment:

Boyd Jones said...

It will be quite interesting over time to see how such a large number of non-Han people affect the culture of Taiwan. Perhaps similiar to the Latin Americans in the US?