settle down FOREVER with a MAN who is willing to try to hold down a steady job and be a loving and understanding husband and father. This will get you exactly NOWHERE with an American girl !!!!!” 159
The collapse of the Soviet Union and the formation of new independent states have created political turmoil, economic crisis, poverty and high unemployment. Women have been the hardest hit through the loss of institutional stability. In Russia, 6.5 million women are without jobs, and employed women’s salaries were only 43 percent of men’s salaries. Violence against women is a severe problem. An estimated 14,000 women are killed each year by their husbands or relatives.160 A law against family violence has yet to be passed and there are only two shelters for battered women in Russia. These circumstances make women desperate for opportunities. The traffickers, pimps, and mail- order-bride agencies take advantage of this vulnerable population to recruit them into many types of trafficking.
One of the commonly promoted characteristics of women from Eastern Europe is that they “traditionally expect to marry gentlemen that are 10 to 20 years older.”161 An agent offering women from Russia also explained the disadvantages of American women and advantages of Russian women:
There is a surplus of beautiful women in their 20’s and 30’s who cannot find a decent man. An attractive 25-year-old woman with a good education in the US is out of reach for most men over 35. In Russia women greatly outnumber the available men. Many women in the US are spoiled by having it too good all their lives and have very confused values. Experience show [sic] us that Russian women come to relationships with much different expectations. 162
Each year, due to poverty and lack of employment, 19,000 women leave the Philippines.163 Many of these women are seeking work overseas and send money home to support families. It is unknown how many Filipina women leave as mail-order-brides. The mail-order-bride agents exploit the women’s poverty and dreams of a better life. All of the agents write that the women are eager to leave their home country. One bride trafficker complains because the Philippines government has passed a law banning the operation of sex tour and mail order brides agents in the Philippines. He says, “The Philippines government is ... definitely working against the interests of their own people. These girls want and need to leave that country” (emphasis his). The same agent also complains that the US government will not allow his youngest brides on offer, who are under age 16, into the country. “The service itself is not restricted by the American government, although they are real picky about getting your bride into the states—they won’t give a visa to a bride under age sixteen.” 164
One man is writing a book on “pen pal brides,” as he calls them, and publishing it chapter by chapter on the Internet. He explains why there is a need for pen pal brides, which is a chapter on feminist bashing. He explains what men can expect from personal stories from men who have acquired women this way. He tells men what to beware of, such as women who have children or send false photographs. He describes all the details, including costs, on how to get a “foreign” woman. 165
The new Internet technology enables Web pages to be quickly and easily updated; some services claim they are updating their selection of women bi-weekly. The Internet reaches