Green Party of Canada

Green Party of Canada

January 17, 2006 09:29 ET

Stronger laws needed to protect mail-order brides in Canada

Attention: Assignment Editor, City Editor, News Editor, Photo Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 17, 2006) - The Canadian government must do far more to protect foreign women who emigrate from countries such as the Phillipines to marry Canadian men, said Green Party of Canada leader Jim Harris today.

Harris noted that many of these 'mail-order brides', who have had the courage to step forward, have reported spousal exploitation and abuse once they arrived in Canada, but their unique circumstances means that many others may not be stepping forward to report abuse. Once brides arrive from the Philippines, they have little mobility and are usually economically dependent on their husbands, and consequently vulnerable to abuse. If abuse does happen, there are few resources available to them and the women are often uninformed of their rights.

The Green Party supports increased research, monitoring and resources, based on the recommendations of non-profit groups such as the Philippines Women's Centre of B.C.

The 'mail-order bride' industry is significant in the Philippines. These marriages are arranged through agencies via websites and catalogues.

It is hard to say exactly how many Filipina women immigrate to Canada as brides or fiancés of Canadian men. According to the Philippine government, close to 150,000 Filipina women left the country between 1989 and 1998 as fiancées or spouses of foreigners. In 2003, people from the Philippines formed the third largest immigration group to Canada, after China and India.

Human rights advocacy groups warn that many of the agencies involved in 'mail-order' brides are effectively involved in human trafficking. In a report on human-trafficking, human rights NGO HRI notes that 'mail-order' brides may be as young as 13. Agencies often describe themselves as "introduction services", although their services may include sex tours and prostitution.

"It is crucial that the government accept the recommendations from organisations who work closely with these women. We must ensure that women come to Canada only by choice, that they are given protection under the law, and that they have a connection to services, community, and support," said Harris. "We cannot turn a blind eye to the situation of these women. Canada must be a responsible member of the international community, and tackle all human rights issues at home and abroad."

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For more information:
Derek Pinto
Media Relations Officer, Leader's Tour
David Kay
Media Relations Officer, Leader's Tour

/For further information:

Derek Pinto
Media Relations Officer, Leader’s Tour

Contact Information

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