Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Home Delivery

In Malaysia at least, some men find the concept of looking for a "mail-order bride" too labor-intensive and time-consuming. As a result, the International Herald Tribune reports:

Women's rights activists voiced outrage Tuesday over claims that Vietnamese girls were brought to small towns in Malaysia to be paraded before prospective husbands.

The "bridal parades" were held in roadside restaurants for lonely men and divorcees who prefer to choose Vietnamese wives on the spot instead of resorting to mail-order brides, Michael Chong, head of the Malaysian Chinese Association's public complaints bureau, told The Star newspaper.

Each bride is sold for up to 30,000 ringgit (US$8,500; €6,500), Chong was quoted as saying.

Maria Chin Abdullah, head of the private Women's Development Collective, calls it akin to sexual slavery and wants it to stop. It's a pretty sad spectacle, that's for sure.

Reminds me of something I heard while interviewing a marriage agency owner in Eastern Ukraine. The guy spoke of visiting The Philippines, the main source country for "mail-order brides," even though there's a law against the business there. He said the women were so desperate to leave, to improve their lives, "it's like clubbing seals." He couldn't meet my eye when he said this. We were in a restaurant, and maybe only our shared background -- raised in northern California -- prompted the easy confession. Either way, with a sly smile, a glance down at the table-cloth, he said it. "Like clubbing seals."