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Niko Sulley
Niko Sulley

Buy A Bride


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Bride-buying, also referred to as bride-purchasing, is the industry or trade of purchasing a bride as a form of property. This enables the bride to be resold or repurchased at the buyer's discretion. This practice continues to have a firm foothold in parts of the world such as China, India and Africa. Described as a form of marriage of convenience, the practice is illegal in many countries.


One of the first recorded instances of bride-buying in North America can be traced back to 1619 in Jamestown, Virginia.[1] The first Jamestown settlers were exclusively European males,[2] historian Alf J. Mapp Jr believes this could be due to the belief that "...women had no place in the grim and often grisly business of subduing a continent..."[3] With stories of famine, disease and dissension, the European women feared that leaving England and traveling to the colony would be of great risk. Unable to find wives, many men chose to desert the colony. In order to reduce desertion, colony leaders sent advertisements back to Europe, pleading for women to immigrate to the colony. Trying to persuade potential brides to come to Jamestown proved to be difficult, however, 17th-century marriage obstacles proved to be beneficial to the men of the colony. Attaining a home and constructing domestic household in Europe was costly. If not born into wealth, most people would need to obtain significant savings before being able to wed. The majority of working-class Englishwomen turned to domestic service to acquire the necessary funds to marry and marital immigration offered an enticing alternative to what otherwise would be years doing menial work for meager pay. The Virginia Company offered women who chose to leave England in favor of the colony generous incentives such as linens, clothing, a plot of land, and their choice of husband. After a husband was chosen, he would then pay the Virginia Company with 150 pounds (70kg) of "good leaf" tobacco (which is equivalent to roughly $5000 USD in today's currency[when?]) to pay for their bride's passage to the colony. This is how the Jamestown brides earned themselves the nickname the "tobacco brides".[4]


One of the most common forms of modern-day bride-buying is mail-order brides. It is estimated that there are 90 agencies that deal with the selling and purchasing of mail order brides.[5] These agencies have websites that list the addresses, pictures, names and biographies of up to 25,000 women that are seeking husbands, with American husbands being the most common preference. While there are women listed on these sites from all over the world, the majority of mail-order brides come from Russia and the Philippines. According to these agencies, 10% of women who choose to become mail-order brides are successful and find a husband through their services. The agencies also state that there are around 10,000 mail-order marriages a year, with about 4,000 of these marriages involving men in the United States.


Bride-buying is an old tradition in China.[6] The practice was largely stamped out by the current Chinese Communist government. However, the modern practice is "not unusual in rural villages"; it is also known as mercenary marriage.[7] According to Ding Lu of the non-governmental organization All-China Women's Federation, the practice had a resurgence due to China's surging economy.[6] From 1991 to 1996, Chinese police rescued upwards of 88,000 women and children who had been sold into marriage and slavery, and the Chinese government claimed that 143,000 traffickers involved were caught and prosecuted. Some human rights groups state that these figures are not correct and that the real number of abducted women is higher. Bay Fang and Mark Leong reported in U.S. News & World Report that "the government sees the commerce in wives as a shameful problem, it has only in recent years begun to provide any statistics, and it tries to put the focus on the women who have been saved rather than on the continuing trade.




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