Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Prohibition against Mail-Order Brides

Published November 28th, 2007 in Family and Property Law, Immigration Law and Criminal Law.

You may be aware of the existence of mail-order brides, although you may not be aware that this is an “industry.” According to a study (The “Mail-Order” Bride Industry and its Impact on U.S. Immigration), funded through the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service:

An American man seeking a foreign bride may avail himself of over 200 different services in which foreign women advertise for husbands. There are two types of such services. In one type, the so-called “mail-order bride” industry (representatives of the industry prefer the term “international correspondence service”), women’s names, photos, biographical sketches, and addresses are presented in hard copy brochures or on the Internet. In these services, the agency provides the photos and descriptions of the women, who are not charged for this listing. Men who wish to obtain the mailing address of any of the women they would like to contact are charged a fee of from $2 to $5 for each of the mailing addresses.

The study also notes that the “Philippines provides a large number of the Asian listings, despite the fact that ‘mail-order bride’ activities” have been declared illegal. Indeed, taking measures to protect Filipino women from being exploited in their pursuit of economic upliftment, the Philippine Congress enacted Republic Act No. 6955, which is “An act to declare unlawful the practice of matching filipino women for marriage to foreign nationals on a mail order basis and other similar practices, including the advertisement, publication, printing or distribution of brochures, fliers and other propaganda materials in furtherance thereof and providing penalty therefore.”

The law makes it unlawful for any person, natural or juridical, association, club or any other entity to commit, directly or indirectly, any of the following acts:

(1) To establish or carry on a business which has for its purpose the matching of Filipino women for marriage to foreign nationals either on a mail-order basis or through personal introduction;

(2) To advertise, publish, print or distribute or cause the advertisement, publication, printing or distribution of any brochure, flier, or any propaganda material calculated to promote the prohibited acts in subparagraph 1;

(3) To solicit, enlist or in any manner attract or induce any Filipino woman to become a member in any club or association whose objective is to match women for marriage to foreign nationals either on a mail-order basis or through personal introduction for a fee;

(4) To use the postal service to promote the prohibited acts in subparagraph 1.

The law also makes it unlawful for the “manager or officer-in-charge or advertising manager of any newspaper, magazine, television or radio station, or other media, or of an advertising agency, printing company or other similar entities, to knowingly allow, or consent to, the acts prohibited in the preceding paragraph.”

Any person found guilty by the court to have violated any of the prohited acts shall suffer an imprisonment of not less than six (6) years and one (1) day but not more than eight (8) years, and a fine of not less than Eight thousand pesos (P8,000) but not more than Twenty thousand pesos (P20,000). If the violation is committed by an association, club, partnership, corporation, or any other entity, the incumbent officers who have knowingly participated in the violation shall be held liable. On the other hand, if the offender is a foreigner, he shall be immediately deported and barred forever from entering the country after serving his sentence and payment of fine.

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