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Monday, June 06, 2005

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Abuse of Mail Order Brides in the USA: Inte...

The sponsors of IMBRA use bogus facts and doubtful statistics.

For example, the official website of one of the co-sponsors, Jan Schakowsky, says that I, Elena Petrova, organized a petition opposing proposed Regulation. I did not. Such a petition was organized by an American-based agency (I live in Australia and I am not a subject of the proposed Regulation). Since March 31 2004, I have sent numerous letters to Jan Schakowsky through her website, mail and fax, and she still keeps this appalling lie on her official website. Why? Because the article portrays Jan Schakowsky in a good light. Apparently, the Congresswoman Schakowsky does not care that her website contains lies and she feels it is appropriate to use defamation against another person to promote herself. (The article can be found at:

Another fact used by Senator Maria Cantwell in her testimony to Foreign Relations Committee (quoted by "Today, experts put the number of international marriage brokers at nearly 500 worldwide." What kind of experts do they use? There are more than 200 registered marriage agencies in my native city Ekaterinburg alone (population 1,5 million). There are at least the same numbers of agencies in Moscow and St. Petersburg. All in all, every Russian city or town has a marriage agency, which means only in Russia they have several thousands marriage agencies. The reason for that is that in Russia there are only 88 men for 100 women (it's official statistics from "The Economist") and for some women search for a partner abroad is their only hope to ever get married and have a family. This is why they have so many international marriage agencies. Where did Senator Cantwell get the figure of 500 international marriage brokers worldwide? A simple check on the Internet would prove her wrong. How true are her other facts?

The Regulation is based on assertion that marriages entered through for-profit international dating services are more prone to abuse that marriages entered through non-profit international dating services or services whose specialization is not international. The sponsors permanently make such claims while they are not supported by any facts. Vice versa, The Department of Justice has already conducted a study that demonstrated a lower rate of spousal abuse in international marriages as compared to the general population. There was also an exhaustive private study conducted by Lisa Simons entitled "Marriage, Migration, and Markets: International Matchmaking and International Feminism", which also concluded that foreign women who use international dating services are at no greater risk for spousal abuse than the general population.

I do not believe that any advertised goal warrants the use of bogus particulars and doubtful statistics, while disregarding serious studies and facts. It's appalling.

6. The measures proposed in the IMBRA that are directly related to international dating services cannot warrant its advertised goal (i.e. better protection for foreign women marrying American citizens).

It is the fact that the only measures directly related to activities of international dating services (labeled in the IMBRA as "international marriage brokers") are:

Request for every male user of international dating services to provide an affidavit about his past marital history and criminal background, before he is allowed to view information of female members;

Receiving a consent on releasing her data from every woman a man wants to contact, on the base of this affidavit - so that she could refuse men with criminal background or inconsistent marital history.

The lawmakers say these measures will prevent men with criminal background from contacting foreign women. This claim is laughable, because the very same Regulation makes thousands of dating websites exempt from this Regulation. Large dating sites carrying hundreds of thousands of profiles of foreign nationals, such as, are exempt from this Regulation and criminal elements can easily use these websites to contact foreign women. No doubt this is exactly what they will do.

It is also questionable if criminal elements will honestly provide information on their criminal background to international dating services, which is supposed to be relayed to female members. Since dating service can only request AN AFFIDAVIT from a man, it is easy for persons with dubious intentions to misrepresent themselves. In terms of preventing criminal elements from contacting foreign women, the value of such an affidavit is pathetic.

Thus the proposed procedure cannot warrant its advertised goal of better protection for foreign women - but it is sure to become a turn-off for many honest and sincere people seeking genuine relationships. This will put American-based agencies in the situation of unfair competition, where their offshore counterparts will have several advantages:

* displaying women's ads without the need to supply criminal and marital background (as opposed to requesting details of person's private life before allowing to see any ads);

* instant contact (as opposed to waiting for days or even weeks for the woman's consent to release her contact information);

* lower fees because they will not have expenses for translating affidavits and commuting from men to women and back.

For me, who is involved with the international dating industry for more than 7 years, it is clear that once IMBRA is voted to life, American-based agencies will soon be out of business. It means, the IMBRA will become useless - there will be no one to impose this Regulation upon.

Currently, American agencies are the only ones that inform women about their rights in regard to domestic violence. They are doing it for many years, since such a law was adopted in early nineties. When I was seeking a partner abroad in 1997, I learned about it from American-based agencies. This information was included in every promotional booklet from them. Once American-based agencies are out of business, no one will provide this information to women when they have just started their search. The consequences of it can be grave.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2003 is poorly designed. The measures related to international dating services cannot warrant its advertised goal. All in all, the IMBRA will not "regulate" the international ma


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