Western companies are making millions in a booming mail-order bride and “romance tour” industry that not only degrades women but also exposes many to domestic abuse. Mail- order bride companies feature women from Russia, Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America in catalogues and on Web sites. Many of the women are portrayed as “traditional, family-oriented” and “untainted by Western feminism,” said a recent Washington Post article.
Men pay up to $5,000 for “romance tours” through Russia that include socials, where women typically outnumber the men 5 to 1.
Men who have found a bride through the services can petition the INS for a visa that allows the fiancee to stay in the United States for 90 days. If the couple is not married at the end of the 90 days, the woman must return home. Although the U.S. Congress passed a 1996 bill that requires the agencies to inform the women about marriage fraud, legal residency and domestic violence or face a $20,000 fine, many of the women find themselves with an abusive partner.
Gillian Caldwell, co-director of Global Survival Network, studied trafficking of Russian women to the United States. Caldwell said, “These women are invisible unless some lunatic walks into a courthouse and shoots his mail-order wife.” In 1995, a man shot and murdered his wife, whom he met through a mail-order agency, in a Seattle courtroom.
The INS passed a rule in 1996 that allows women to file for residency on their own if they find themselves in an abusive relationship. However, foreign language barriers and ignorance of U.S. law deters many women from filing.
Leslye Orloff, program development director at Ayuda, a nonprofit legal service for immigrants, said that refugee advocacy groups want to require Americans to provide information on criminal records or any protective orders that may have been issued against them before seeking a mail-order bride.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .