Recently, I have been made aware of the reality that a man is able to partner with dating agencies in Thailand to find a woman to date, with the view of marrying. And given the fact that I work with women that are survivors of human trafficking, I was very interested to learn if the two (international dating websites and human trafficking) had anything in common.
Do you know anything about “Thai Brides”? I didn’t. So I watched a documentary by my favourite documentarian, Louis Theroux about it.
Basically, there are massive dating agencies in Thailand that accept applications from Thai girls. These girls are tired of the Thai men rampaging around with other women and caring nothing for the sanctity of family. Many also want to leave Thailand to find a better life. So they sign up with a dating agency. The agencies, interview, weigh, photograph, video, and rate them. British (I’m sure there are other nationalities as well) men visiting Thailand can decide which women strike their fancy and give them a shot. They may go on a few dates with multiple women before deciding on one woman that they are convinced should be their treasured wife. Many marry the woman on the same trip to Thailand and quickly bring her back to the UK.
And that is pretty much the VERY BASIC system.
Definitions must precede this discussion.
What is human trafficking? “Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act, ” says the Department of Homeland Security.
What is exploitation? Oxford Dictionary defines it as “the action or fact of treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work.”
From purely these definitions, we see that human trafficking is always exploitative, but because someone has been exploited does not qualify them as having been trafficked.
Are either parties (the British man or the Thai Bride) guilty of either of the above definitions?
Marrying a Thai Bride is not human trafficking. Human trafficking involves deceit, force, coercion. British men are mostly transparent about their intentions. There is no trickery. Many of the stories I read were about men that clearly explained that they wanted a beautiful, young wife that would love him, bear him children, and clean the house. Sounds oppressive to some, but it isn’t human trafficking or slavery.
However, is marrying a Thai Bride considered exploitation? Could be yes. Could be no. And is marrying a British man considered exploitation? Could be yes. Could be no.
There could be a British man that has the purest, noblest intentions in dating and marrying a Thai Bride. His values may not line up with the feminist agenda. He may want a subservient lover that is content to care for a husband’s practical needs. He just hasn’t found a woman like this in the ever growing equal rights agenda in the UK, so he ventures to Thailand. He doesn’t want to treat her unfairly. He wants to love her and provide for her.
There are also men that have no love in mind. He wants a cleaner. He wants a baby maker. He wants to be in control. The top dog in the relationship. The powerful one. And he wants to use the fact that she wants OUT of Thailand to his advantage. He is exploiting her vulnerabilities for his own gain. This could be exploitation.
But have you considered the woman might also be guilty of exploitation? Is she taking advantage of a man that is lonely in order to get UK citizenship? Will she leave him once she gets what she wants? Does she just want his money and not care about his personhood? The bride could be exploiting her new husband as well.
Is it exploitative to marry a “Thai Bride”? It may be, as mentioned above. But it may not be. And the relationship could actually be thriving and healthy. The dating agencies could link two individuals that go on to love one another till they die.
There is no black/white answer. Each case must be looked at individually. I still don’t know what I make of the fact that rich, British men are wandering the streets of Thailand to find a woman 30 years his junior to marry. Watching the documentary made me uncomfortable with the whole system. Seems creepy. But even so, it isn’t ALWAYS deemed as exploitation.
Let’s not exploit people. Let’s lift people’s heads and make them feel nothing but valuable. Whether she is a Thai Bride. Or the mum at school with no one to talk. Or the man that has backslid again. Or the homeless guy that won’t lift his eyes. The opposite of exploitation could be advancement. Advance people along. Don’t exploit them.