EWL News

European conference highlights women’s rights violations related to mail order bride

[Brussels, 29 January 2014] The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) took part in a very interesting discussion on the issue of mail order bride, on 29 January 2014 in the European Parliament. Hosted by MEP Britta Thomsen and organised by the NGO Oasis, the event aimed at looking at the impact of the business of International Marriage Brokers (IMB) on women’s rights. EWL Interim Coordinator Pierrette Pape explained how the trivilisation of such business leads to violations of women’s rights.

Indeed, according to various studies and the work of frontline NGOs, the phenomenon of male order bride or IMB is based on the perpetuation of gendered stereotypes and the inequalities between rich and poor countries on this planet. 94% of the men using services from IMB are white men, ideologically conservative, economically successful, around 40 years old, and looking for a certain type of women: preferably young women, with ‘traditional values’. The motto of one of these companies is "The American man’s alternative to American women!"

Women come from poor families, or countries stricken by economic crisis or war (like Colombia, Russia, Philippines, Ukraine), and have no choice but to move abroad because of the lack of employment opportunities in their home country. They might also be trying to escape male violence and discrimination. They end up in abusive situations, in a country they don’t know, where they have no information about their rights. Some are deceived by the agencies and end up in prostitution rings. Above all, they become products, presented as commodities by agencies that seek business and benefit.

The EWL therefore alerts on the phenomenon, that perpetuates male domination and the commodification of women’s body and sexuality. The example of the Philippines should get more visibility, as the Filipino legislation prohibiting male order bride is based on the goals of gender equality. This progressive legislation was presented by Ms. Marie Yvette Banzon-Abalos, First Secretary and Consul of the Philippines Embassy.

Hikka Becker, from the European Network of Migrant Women, presented the issues of vulnerabilities facing women when they migrate for marriage, and highlighted the lack of political action to ensure the rights of migrant women in each country in Europe.

The EWL would like to congratulate again Ms Thomsen and the NGO Oasis for their initiative, which adds information to the campaign of women’s organisations against male violence, sexist stereotypes and the sexualisation of women and girls.

More information: read the research of Laura A. Pennington "Marriage migration, citizenship and vulnerability: the international Marriage Broker Regulation Act"

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