A mail-order bride is a woman who advertises her availability for marriage-either in a paper-based catalog or more recently on the Internet-and then subsequently marries a man, usually from another, more wealthy country. The common perception is of mail-order brides as desperate, passive women and of the men who “purchase” wives as inadequate, unable to get a wife any other way. The reality is sometimes more complicated.

Historically, mail-order brides were likely to come from more developed countries; they married men who themselves had previously traveled abroad to farm, to mine, or otherwise start a new life. The women who chose this path to marriage did so because they thought they could achieve a better lifestyle than if they remained at home-as either a married or ...

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