SUCCESS STORIES / AUG. 21, 2014
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Mail-Order Bride: A Booming Business in Vietnam

Selling off yourself to a man who wants your hand in marriage is a trend common to most developing countries including Russia, Brazil, and New Zealand.  However, the eastern side of the world is now witnessing this booming business even more.

The trade of purchasing a bride through mail-ordering originated in the United States during the 1800s when both Asian and American men migrated to California to work in the frontier.

There weren’t many women who had settled on the Western frontier, so a lot of the workers became lonely.

American men would write letters to the east or advertised their marriage requests via newspapers in an effort to find a potential suitor. Women-whether single, divorced, or widowed-would exchange letters and pictures of themselves, which would begin the process of courtship.

Asian frontier workers also had a limited number of cultural-fitting women to choose from. This shortage prompted agencies to locate foreign wives from Asia through a system called “picture brides.” Japanese women were granted passports to immigrate to America just to marry a man of the same nationality.

Bridal mail-ordering has now evolved from catalog advertisement to international online marriage agencies.

Although it’s prevalent in different regions across the world, this form of marriage is continually growing in Asia.

Many exchanged women-domestic and international-are from Asian countries. Some choose to take advantage of a mail-ordering service due to unemployment, poverty, and other unforeseen circumstances. 

For one Vietnamese bride, her marriage has been a major improvement from her previous lifestyle.

Nguyen Thi Hang, 30, relocated to the small village of Linqui, China for marriage purposes.

Hang’s family arranged her with a 22-year-old Chinese construction worker, who rescued her from a “bad quality brick house” and farming lifestyle.

Her husband purchased her for only $3,200.

The conditions are economically better in China; so Vietnamese families tend to charge a much lower cost. Plus, a high abortion rate of Chinese female babies has driven most men to seek brides elsewhere.

This has resulted in a growing number of Vietnamese women who have luckily found better homes, healthier living conditions, and potential love. 

For some women, attending a bride school prepares them to enter into a culture unfamiliar of their own.

Certain areas in South Korea offer one to three-day courses to Vietnamese women who are interested in obtaining a visa. This teaches them the language and customs of the country so that they will be able to effectively relate to their partner.

Despite the positive aspects of mail-order brides, there are also some downfalls to the trade.

Many become runaway brides or divorcees due to abuse, neglect, dishonest marketing, or human trafficking. Men too are sometimes subjected to fraud if a woman’s motivation to escape her country is to be with a distant lover or to send for her family.

Yet, Vietnam dating sites continue to profit over 36,000 Yuan ($5851.61) from selling “kind” and “obedient” females who can always be replaced if needed. 

Sourced Image: Wikimedia Commons

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