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Thursday, December 3rd, 2009 - 4 comments

USA, Singapore: On buying brides with credit cards

The Human Trafficking blog by Amanda Kloer at Change.org in the United States declared victory a while ago in their campaign to get the credit card company Diners Club International to stop doing business with a company in Singapore that sells Vietnamese mail order brides.

More than 800 people signed a petition to get Diners Club to stop making it easier to purchase women for marriage.

The online petition said:

Human beings should not be bought or sold, and they certainly shouldn’t be part of a payment plan, a “blue light special”, or a clearance sale. Mail order brides are not only extremely vulnerable to human trafficking, but also domestic violence, abuse, rape, and exploitation. While creating a payment plan to purchase a human being is ethically and philosophically disgusting, it also reduces the economic barrier to buying a bride. Removing that barrier allows traffickers to acquire women using less capital than they needed before. It opens the door to a new socio-economic class of criminals to buy and exploit these women.

Diner’s Club example

Mail order brides are not illegal in Singapore, nor in most other parts of the world. This month, The Electric New Paper in Singapore published a series of articles about Vietnam Brides International, including one about the company’s $167 a month payment plan with Diners Club, and another about the sliding scale of prices for brides depending on where they are from. The journalist, Crystal Chan, also spoke to the assistant general manager (sales and marketing) for Diners Club (Singapore), who said, “We don’t make a moral judgment on the business set-up of our merchant partners. For us, it’s more important that the business is legitimate.”

Since the petition, the credit card company has changed its tune and written the following in a letter to Change.org:

On behalf of Diners Club International, which is part of Discover Financial Services, we appreciate [your] bringing this specific merchant relationship with a Diners franchisee to our attention. Formal steps have been taken to terminate the relationship [with Vietnam Brides International].

On Change.org Amanda Kloer concludes:

This statement is telling, and it says that you all made a huge difference. Your letters made Diners Club aware of the partnership one of their franchisees had made with a mail order bride service. You helped keep an important financial protection in place for women at risk of trafficking and abuse via the mail order bride industry. You refused to accept that an international company can treat and finance women like objects. This is one of those rare moments when you can see the important changes your actions bring, and the difference you make in the world.

Thank you for bringing this issue to Diners Club’s attention. And thank you Diners Club International for making the important decision to protect women and girls from exploitation. Together, we are the change we wish to see.

Video on mail order brides

In April, Global Voices linked to a post by Alvinology in Singapore about an Al Jazeera film about Vietnamese mail order brides. The film tells the story of two girls who come to Singapore seeking new lives.

Alvinology wonders why men must resort to foreign brides when there are already both men and women in Singapore. He writes:

In the video, a Vietnamese bride can be “purchased” on-the-spot for S$10,000. The girl on the right was only 18-years-old when she was sold to a 35 year-old Singaporean man who went to the matchmaking agency to choose his bride together with his mom.

What’s even more humiliating, the girls were made to visit a clinic in Singapore to get a certificate verifying their virginity before they can be sold.

While both the Vietnamese girls and the Singaporean men who entered into such marriages are willing adults, I wonder how many of such couples end up truly happy.

This blog-post was originally published at Global Voices Online on June 15, 2009.

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The views expressed in this blog-post are solely those of the author.

Comments (4)

Tweets that mention USA, Singapore: On buying brides with credit cards – Conversations for a Better World -- Topsy.com
Friday 4th December, 2009, 1:07am

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by scott joy, Susan Rosen. Susan Rosen said: USA, Singapore: On buying brides with credit cards – Conversations ...: The Human Trafficking blog by Amanda Kl.. http://bit.ly/8I1C84 [...]

Buy Stuffs
Monday 7th December, 2009, 10:55am

That's unfair, to make such judgement. Who are we to say that brides mail order is wrong? Such system helps women in impoverished countries to get better life, at the same time helps more well-off man who find it hard to meet suitable life partner otherwise.

Theresa
Friday 26th March, 2010, 12:25am

What upsets me about this article is that I'm ON your side, but you do not provide enough information, and as we can see you get comments like "what's wrong with this", this is irresponsible journalism. I found this site easily by typing something into google and it could be a great resource. But no, your last sentence is that you know people enter into these contracts willingly, but you wonder if they could ever truly be happy. OH NO! What a disgrace to an important topic! We should be outraged because people MIGHT NOT BE HAPPY! Goodness gracious. Please stop writing crappy articles and start raising people's consciousness NOW.

Credit Card Website
Wednesday 9th June, 2010, 8:19pm

Credit is a method of selling goods or services without the buyer having cash in hand. A credit card is only an automatic way of offering credit to a consumer. Today, every credit card carries an identifying number that speeds shopping transactions. Imagine what a credit purchase would be like without it, the sales person would have to record your identity, billing address, and terms of repayment.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, "the use of credit cards originated in the United States during the 1920s, when individual firms, such as oil companies and hotel chains, began issuing them to customers." However, references to credit cards have been made as far back as 1890 in Europe. Early credit cards involved sales directly between the merchant offering the credit and credit card, and that merchant's customer. Around 1938, companies started to accept each other's cards. Today, credit cards allow you to make purchases with countless third parties.


Credit Card Website

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Guest Editor

Solana Larsen

Managing Editor, Global Voices

About

I am a Danish-Puerto Rican journalist and activist, and the managing editor of Global Voices online, a community of bloggers that tracks and translates conversations taking place in citizen media around the world.

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