Last month, I watched a documentary on Current TV called Bride Trafficking Unveiled. It was about the rise of mail-order brides in the UK and Ireland. It was presented by journalist Laura Barry, who visited Thailand and the Philippines to further investigate the issue.
She first interviewed a satisfied ‘older gentlemen’ and his young Thai wife. They initially got married in Thailand, but according to him, it wasn’t a legal wedding; they had to re-marry once he brought her back to the United Kingdom. They now have three young children.
When asked how he knew she was the one, he said he was impressed with the way she started hanging up his clothes when they entered his hotel room. Charming!
He also said she would call him at work and ask for permission to go down the road to meet her friend. He seemed to be the one doing most of the talking, while she sat there, quietly looking at him.
‘Western men don’t cheat’
Next, she went to Thailand and met two women who were hoping to join an agency that matched Thai girls with Western men. They told her they liked Western men because they treated their women with respect.
One girl said that Western men never cheated on their wives or girlfriends. I don’t know where she got that idea from, but it was obvious that they both imagined a better life outside Thailand.
Sex bars or marrying foreigners
We were shown around the slums of Bangkok so we could better understand why many girls wanted to leave the country. The girls didn’t have much choice. They came from poor families and they were expected to find ways of earning money. They could either work in sex bars, where they were forced into prostitution and subjected to violence, or they could find a foreign husband.
Bride agencies do background checks on prospective girls before they are allowed to sign up. One agency owner said he was looking for girls between the ages 18 to 40. The women had to be unmarried (which makes sense) and could not work in a bar for a living. He was asked if he did any background checks on the Western men who came to ‘buy’ the girls, but he said it was too expensive to do so.
‘No rights under UK law’
As you might have expected, a lot of the girls ended up with abusive, dominating husbands. They wanted wives who were obedient and easy-to-control. Some of the Thai girls became very depressed after moving to the United Kingdom, but apparently, they did not have many rights under UK law. Laura meets a woman who has set up a safe house for Thai women who have suffered abuse at the hands of their husbands.
Everyone’s a loser
Laura also meets a man who has spent most of his savings on mail-order brides. He kept telling lies to the agencies about his age and his circumstance, and they kept sending him new brides. It was suggested that he was mentally disabled, and that unscrupulous bride agencies were taking advantage of him. This poor man, along with the poor girls from Thailand and the Philippines, was part of a long list of people who were losing out in the mail-order bride industry.
- Click here to watch the documentary (current.com)
- Mail Order Brides (socyberty.com)
- “It Happens Every Day”: Foreign Husbands In Thailand (jezebel.com)