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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

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

The very title of the Regulation uses the term "international marriage broker", which creates a wrong image.

International dating agencies do NOT "broker" marriages. The process is no different from people using any online personals. One person (it can be a man or a woman) publishes an ad, the other person responds, they start communicating, establish a relationship, meet in person and take it from there. The role of a dating website is TO PUBLISH ADS, so people could find other people interested in establishing a relationship. The dating site "brokers marriages" just the same way a newspaper publishing personal ads is doing that. Thus, the very term "international marriage brokers" is confusing and misleading.

The Regulation also refers to "trafficking" while it lacks a clear definition of this word. Normally, trafficking means illegal operation where people are brought to a foreign country under false promises or without following the proper immigration procedure. International dating sites do not promote anything illegal. They help people to meet somebody to establish a GENUINE relationship. The immigration authorities check if the relationship is genuine when the foreign person applies for a visa. I could not find any factual proof of an American-based international dating site being involved in trafficking. The Regulation does not provide such facts either, only labels. It's wrong.

All in all, through the use of labels, it seems any website that helps people to meet somebody internationally and makes money, is bad. Why? I have no idea. If people have a genuine relationship and love each other, what's wrong with it??

5. 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


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