« Studio 60, the Most Important Television Show Ever in the History of Television | Home | Who's Older?™: Former Threats to Freedom »

October 17, 2006


Mail order brides stalled by anti-commercial-romance legislation

Russian mail order brides

The NY Times today has a pretty standard piece on men who buy wives for themselves through internet "don't call it mail-order" dating/marriage sites. As if not being able to get anyone in your own country to marry you weren't bad enough, these guys are suffering through some added inconveniences at the hands of their own government.

Congress created the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act, or Imbra, in March. The legislation "is intended to give foreign women and the American government more information about the men who seek so-called mail-order brides." In other words, Congress recognized an alarmingly fast rise in reports of abuse from women who came to the US to marry guys they met online. So they made a law that gives these women more information about the criminal record and marital history of their future husbands before they pack their bags and become legally bound to a man who has gone out of his way to find a wife who has no way of knowing any objective information about him. Men must now also provide this information to the government when applying for a fiancée visa. Sounds like a great idea, right?

Not so, according to the buyers. The customer is always right, and that should extend to spousal transactions, say purchasers of foreign brides. “We should have the right to correspond with, date and marry the person of our choosing,” said David Root, who has been involved with many women from the former Soviet Union in the past decade but has not married any of them. “The government shouldn’t interfere in this.”

He may have a point--Americans can indeed marry whomever they please. And it's not like they're forcing these women to leave their homes for a lifetime of marriage to a man who is often, let's face it, a total stranger. The man that the NY Times story follows, Adam Weaver, sounds like a nice enough person who was seeking an "old-fashioned girl", and now just wants to marry his Colombian fiancée (she's 17 years younger than he is, does that mean she qualifies as a "girl"?) without a lot of delays.

But some men who get into foreign marriage services clearly are delusional: there's a hilarious example in Sam Smith, who owns a company called I Love Latins, based in Houston [site not really safe for work]. In explaining the appeal of his service, he says, “It all started with women’s lib. Guys are sick and tired of the North American me, me, me attitude.”

"Me, me, me", huh? And what kind of attitude is it that compels a wealthy American man to search for another human being on a shopping site using criteria like age, weight, height, religion, and command of English, and then pay thousands of dollars for this probably low-income person from a poor country with few or zero opportunities for a stable life to leave their home and enter into a legally-binding contract with them that allows that person to live legally in the US only if they remain married? That's altruism! Right, Sam Smith?

categories: Business, Culture, Economics, Gender, International, Technology
posted by amy at 1:58 PM | #

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Your post contains numerous inaccuries and completely mischaracterizes the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2005. The stated purpose of the law "to protect women" sounds like such a wonderful idea (like Communism)but a close examination of the details reveals the unconstitutional law fails to protect women, subjects men to identity theft and blackmail, and is a fradulent waste of taxpayers money.

(First paragraph):Amy, For your information nobody is getting bought or sold. The sinister phrase "marriage Broker" was deceptively coined by promoters of the romance law to create a negative tone suggesting that women from foreign countries were traded and sold.

International matchmaking organizations merely provide contact information to consenting adults allowing two human beings in different countries to say "hello"...a perfectly legal pursuit.

The promoters of the law have used myth and hysteria citing a few tragic cases of abuse inflated by rumor mill hysteria using this to play up their agenda. The real agenda (purpose) as stated by the "promoters" of the law is to prevent American men from Communicating with a foreigner.
Even moderate feminists abhor a law that brands (unfairly) American men as abusers. http://www.ifeminists.net/introduction/editorials/2006/0111.html

Promoters of the law have sensationalized the murders of 3 foreign women by American husbands they met through the internet while cleverly masking the ugly scenario whereby 17,000 American women residents have been killed by their intimate partner in the same time frame. http://www.now.org/issues/violence/stats.html
(If this is such a wonderful law why did the promoters exclude protection for American women citizens who appear to need the protection also!)

Lets get to the truth: The promoters of IMBRA have never provided any reliable SCIENTIFIC evidence demonstrating the abuse rate for foreign brides who met their husbands via the internet are any higher than the rate for all US couples.

The only scientific study of abuse rates of International marriages was performed by the INS who found abuse rates for "International marriages" was a miniscule 1%- far lower than the 7% abuse rate for all US couples.
Scroll down to "Abuse in Mail Order marriages"

Amy how long can the radical women's groups "con" the American people into believing personal opinions disguised as facts getting the public and politicians stirred up donating money for this "manufactured" problem of abuse- a FRADULENT WASTE OF TAXPAYERS MONEY?

Promoters of the law have tried to enrage the public somehow suggesting international matchmaking constitutes sex trafficking. This issue is not relevent to IMBRA since there has never been a US based matchmaking organization even arrested for trafficking. Please name even one case where a matchmaking organization has been arrested for trafficking. (The silence is deafening). I agree with you that Human trafficking of women is a horrific crime so why spend money regulating matchmaking organizations who aren't involved?

Why did the promoters of the romance law severely compromise their stated desire "to protect women" by exempting the largest mega dating sites from provisions of the law requiring criminal history disclosure? (The silence is deafening)http://www.prweb.com/releases/2006/3/prweb357407.htm
The law unnecessarily subjects men to blackmail and identity theft by requiring submission of criminal and personal history to a complete stranger!

Where were the cheerleaders of IMBRA when 50,000 Russian and Ukrainian women were murdered by their intimate partners (in Russia and Ukraine) over the last 13 years- not any by American men ...all 50,000 murdered by Russian and Ukrainian men... And you say this is a good law to that protects foreign women? Where is the protection?

The law fails to protect women, exposes American men to identity theft, violates basic human and Constitutional rights and is a fraudulent waste of taxpayers money paid for by the working women and men of America.
Dave Root

Posted by: Dave Root at July 29, 2007 8:58 AM

This law has nothing to do with "spousal transactions." It makes it a crime for an American to fire off an email to a foreigner if he sees that foreigner's profile on a dating web site. Period. End of sentence.

Warning to American women writing to Canadian, British or Italian men: do you know where your First Amendment is?

Posted by: Tristan at July 30, 2007 8:18 PM

I agree that IMBRA might be excessive in its limitation of any contact at all between Americans and foreigners using a commercial dating service without these extensive background checks. Without data to indicate that women who participate in services like these are at higher risk of abuse or exploitation than other women, there is doubt about the necessity of such a law.

But I think our legislators made this law out of recognition of the inherent imbalance of power in an industry that (primarily) introduces wealthy American men to poor women in poor countries for the purpose of sex, dating, and marriage. They believe, as I do, that this industry puts women at risk of ending up in dangerous situations, and it might be a good idea to give them information about their potential future partners to help them make good decisions in their own best interest.

That said, it's distasteful to me (and apparently to our government) that comparatively wealthy American men who use services like these seem to be specifically seeking out low-income women who have few opportunities in their own countries, so will be more or less dependent on them when and if they get to the U.S. It's also distasteful to me that the women involved probably value these American men only for their money, but I'm more sympathetic to them, because of their slim chances of living a life free from poverty if they stay in their home countries.

And Congress isn't preventing anybody from communicating with anybody through this law. If you want to meet women, get your ass on a plane, go to whatever country you want, and meet them on your own like a normal person using your own social skills, without paying thousands of dollars for a broker.

Posted by: amy at July 31, 2007 9:46 AM

Amy stated

"the women involved probably value these American men only for their money"

Your analysis mistakenly suggests these International relationships are primarily for economic reasons when in fact there are a whole complex tangle of cultural, social and economic factors that are involved here. If money and material resources was the primary motivating factor why are very few foreign men using matchmaking organizations to meet American women?

Where aren't the marriage agencies matching Indian women(from Asia)with American men? Indian women(though very poor)aren't culturally inclined
to marry Americans and vice versa.

Many Russian women seek American men because there are many social problems in Russia. Many Russian men drink heavily, are less motivated to succeed and are more likely to abuse women.

Your suggestion that wealthy American men are simply interested in taking advantage of "low-income women who have few opportunities in their own countries" is a fantasy. Are you aware that a recent survey of the US Census showed but in all three states unmarried men outnumbered unmarried women between 15-44? In one state the ratio is 120:100. Our government should actually encouraging men to go abroad.

Who is paying thouands of dollars to a broker?.

I recently used a matchmaking organization (velida.net)in Bulgaria paying $35 for 30 responses and have developed a relationship with a nice Bulgarian lady with a Masters degree in political science. Several weeks ago we had an opportunity to meet while on vacation in Bulgaria. What happens in our relationship and how it evolves is strictly our own personal business and we both feel very strongly that the US government has no business getting involved in our affair. (don't you think most American couples would feel the same?)

So you find it distasteful for "wealthy Americans" to date foreigners. Typically Americans who date foreigners earn above average salaries,are mature, well established in their careers and don't fit the profile of an abuser.

You have suggested there is an inherent imbalance of power in an industry that (primarily) introduces wealthy American men to poor women exposing them to risks of abuse.

Your suggestion that the matchmaking industry caters to wealthy men exposing them to risks of abuse directly contradicts with your stated goal of protecting women. American men who earn above average salaries are less likely to be arrested for criminal activity including domestic abuse. Once again the INS study done in 1999 demonstratd that these International marriages are 7 times less likely to be involved with abuse than the rate for all US couples.

So you don't think that after 17,000 American women have been murdered by their intimate partners that we should extend this protection to American women? Why not?

The proponents of this law constantly dwell on the negative issues ignoring the positive side of these relationships including an 80% sucess rate compared to the 50% divorce for all US couples.

The romance law fails to protect women from violence, unnessarily exposes American men to identity theft, is a violation of basic human and constitutional rights and is a fradulent waste of taxpyers money- the working men and women of America.

Posted by: Dave Root at August 1, 2007 11:14 PM

Of course, our government should be doing whatever it can to protect all women from people who mean them harm. It clearly fails to do this for most women in relationships with abusers, as you say. And I agree that IMBRA seems to have been legislated in response to a few sensational cases, though there is also the statistic that is quoted in the NYT article (which was the first time I ever heard of the law): "In 1998, fewer than 2,500 foreign women applied to become permanent residents under the Violence Against Women Act, which allows abused wives to apply for residence without the support of their husbands. In the fiscal year that ended in September, 9,500 applied."

That's all the information I have about this issue, and sure, numbers can be manipulated, but my guess is that Congress saw those statistics as a compelling reason to add some regulation to the international matchmaking industry.

Congress can't prevent anybody from meeting and dating anybody they want, but they can regulate financial transactions in certain industries, and they can regulate who is allowed to come into our country and seek citizenship via marriage. Meeting somebody on your own and engaging in a financial transaction to meet somebody are not the same thing--I'm not making a value judgment here, I'm just reflecting our government's ability to regulate.

If IMBRA gives women who are considering getting involved with or marrying an American useful information about what they're getting into, then I think its premise is good. Whether it actually protects women from creeps, I don't know, and it would be sensible for our government to evaluate the impact of the law.

Whether men who pay for matchmaking services with international women are more or less likely to be abusers, I also don't know. But the statistics quoted in the article point to a growing problem, and it would be wonderful if IMBRA helps to solve it. I think we would agree that we don't know if it's actually working or not, and I would doubt that any real analysis will be done to determine this. Which is unfortunate. Our government tends to make reactionary laws to perceived threats that often make little or no impact on the problem (e.g. taking your shoes off in airports.)

Posted by: amy at August 2, 2007 10:06 AM

Amy you have cited a reference in the NY Times article depicting a dramatic increase in foreign women applying for residence as a battered spouse - from 2500 in 1998 to 9500. The dramatic increase in battered cases is mostly the result of foreign women filing (false)abuse charges against her American husband in exchange for a "green card".

An amendment to the VAWA act in year 2000 made it much easier for” Battered immigrants to obtain lawful permanent resident status without the participation or cooperation of the (alleged) abusive spouses". The good natured intent of this "self petitioning' is deeply overshadowed by huge numbers of foreign women marrying American men under false pretenses and then taking advantage of American men "dumping them" by filing false abuse charges and getting residency status. MOST of these self petitioning battered abuse cases involve filing false abuse charges.

To complicate matters further the VAWA amendments passed in 2005 make it ridiculously easy for foreign immigrant women to file abuse charges against their American husband (who is getting scammed). The new amendments allow abused immigrant women to file charges in secret with the USCIS Center in Vermont. The law forbids the accused husband from being notified of abuse charges against him. Furthermore the new VAWA amendments provide for no penalties for filing false abuse charges.

Therefore solely based upon the word of a non citizen immigrant the American citizen (most who are innocent) gets a "federal file" for life- destroying his career and marriage while the abused scammer gets a green card.

The statistics stated in the article (you mentioned) about a "growing problem" are not the result of an increase in domestic abuse. Those statistics simply reflect an increase in false abuse charges being filed - many by Russian and Ukrainian scammers.

Posted by: Dave Root at August 7, 2007 10:10 PM

Hello Amy,

Don't you think IMBRA should stipulate that it only applies to empoverished stupid women? What about rich, educated and informed foreign women who can articulate well against US paranoid feminism? I can give you their phone numbers (but first you have to give me every state you ever lived in plus info on any arrests, etc).

First of all, Eduardo Porter of the New York Times apologized profusely to Adam Weaver for the fact that a radical feminist editor at his paper completely rewrote his original article that condemned IMBRA and praised Adam and his fiance.
I can prove this if you wish.

Second of all, young college coeds in Moscow are often starting at $2000 per month income at major corporations. These women are gorgeous and MSU has a better world-wide reputation than Harvard, so I don't get your jingoistic attitude that a man who seeks these superior women somehow could not get a woman to date him in the USA.

You have an ethnocentric view of the world, where American women are considered to be the top choice of men who have only one life to live before they die and become dust.

Anyway, these foreign upper middle class, college educated women have, under IMBRA, completely lost their right to broadcast their personal contact information in the manner they see fit.

IMBRA only works if a woman has email and checks it every day. But what if a woman wants men to call her (any man who is visiting her country) and a man arrives on a Friday night for 2 day but she only checks her email at work on Monday morning?

These women will challenge IMBRA soon, and the only thing the Attorney General can say to stop them is this: "Foreign women have no rights, therefore we can implement forced informed consent upon them.

You need to know that we who date internationally are, like James Bond and Indiana Jones, the professional upper-middle class whom the top American single women prefer to date...but we choose to use the one life we have to possibly do better.

Now you can laugh at the idea that someone just likened himself to Indiana Jones...but you don't know the people who post online. IMBRA presumes that men with the stature and attractiveness of James Bond and Indiana Jones do not exist in real life. Who wants to perpetuate that myth? That's right: feminists who don't want American men to think it is OK to look outside the American gene pool for dates.

It seems like American male expats need to conduct a few million dollars worth of advertising inside the US, basically saying that we do not hate American women just because we live in other countries...and we don't live in other countries because we would necessarily have any problem finding an attractive American woman to date.

Life is short Amy. No need to make up self-serving craziness that you are supposed to be some sort of premium catch for men because you have American citizenship.

The very idea that you can swallow an outdated feminist ideology would be an instant turnoff on a date. The opposite is not true. If I were on a date with an American woman, she would be very impressed that I can speak Russian and know Russia well for its history, literature and its current prosperous business environment (I sell $50,000 per month of American products there).

Posted by: Jim Peterson at November 14, 2007 3:08 AM

You know what's the best part about having an ethnocentric view of the world? It's that I can live right here in New York and be surrounded by thousands of gorgeous, adoring men who think that smart, beautiful, successful feminists who know what they want are the sexiest women around. And they don't have to pay a third party to meet them! They can just start talking to them on their own like a normal human being. Amazing.

Somehow the human race has propagated itself for millennia without people having to pay thousands of dollars to government-regulated dating services to meet mates. Hard to believe for some, perhaps.

Jim, if you live abroad and have found women you like where you live, that's wonderful and I'm glad for you. I think Congress when creating this legislation was more concerned about Americans who use internet vendors to essentially shop for women, not people who travel the world to find the kind of person they want to date. The government can't control who dates whom, but they can regulate paid transactions. There are plenty of websites where people around the world can meet each other and communicate for no charge, free of government regulation. And as you seem to have found, one can also travel to other countries and meet people independently of any fee-based dating service.

Posted by: amy at November 15, 2007 9:50 AM

Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)