Copyright (c) 2004 San Diego International Law Journal
San Diego International Law Journal
ARTICLE: Profitable Proposals: Explaining and Addressing the Mail-Order Bride Industry Through International Human Rights Law
5 San Diego Int'l L.J. 225
American romantic mythology tells us that marriage is based on individualism, romantic love and partnership. 1 Flying in the face of these normative expectations, the modern mail-order bride industry 2 probably strikes a sour note with most Americans. What tradition presents as the ultimate personal decision, the industry seems to reduce to an impersonal economic exchange. Some critics accuse mail-order brides of marriage fraud, implying that they are not marrying for "the right reasons." 3 Others vilify mail-order brides as calculating gold-diggers. 4 Some feminist critics argue that mail-order marriages undermine the "transition from patriarchal to companionate family forms," 5 something these critics presume to be better for women.
The great sin of the mail-order bride industry (hereinafter MOBI) is not that it makes Western romantics uncomfortable. Whether the motivation to marry is romantic, economic, familial or socioeconomic, a marriage between two people who do not possess equal power risks abuse of the less powerful spouse. Arguably, to the extent women are generally subordinated by men, heterosexual marriage embodies this sort of power imbalance. The MOBI institutionalizes further power imbalances by deliberately matching men at the top of the global power spectrum with women who reside at the bottom.
These marriages, as well as the way mail-order bride businesses conduct their trade, violate women's human rights. To secure potential brides, the MOBI recruits women in developing nations who have been made vulnerable by daily violations of their human rights. Marriages resulting from the MOBI ...
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