Thursday, 12 April 2007

Mail order bride woes for Kiwi blokes

Kiwi men looking for love in all the wrong places are finding themselves left high and dry after bringing mail order brides into New Zealand.
Support groups on Auckland's North Shore say the number of men from failed mail order bride partnerships and ensuing child custody battles has grown.
Shore Fathers founder Craig Davis says in the past six months, 11 men have contacted him seeking help with mail order love affairs gone wrong.
"About six of the guys had Russian or eastern European wives and the others were mainly Asian," says Mr Davis, who formed the nonprofit group 13 years ago to promote the role of the father in the family.
"I even had a call from a grandfather recently whose 17-year-old grandson wants to bring over a 22-year-old Russian woman he found on the net.
"His grandfather was terrified and I told him 'don't let him do it'."
A man, who wishes to remain anonymous because of Family Court proceedings, admits to having had two mail order brides.
"I'm one of the dumb ones. I did it twice in seven years," he says.
He found his first wife, from the Ukraine, through Trade and Exchange.
The man visited her and admits to being a bit naive.
"She seemed to be a marvellous lady. But we weren't married a year and once she got that stamp in her passport she was gone," he says.
His second wife was Russian and again he went over to get to know her, braving a cold winter.
She fell pregnant, he got the necessary visa and brought her to New Zealand where their child was born.
The relationship grew sour and she threatened to take their child back to Russia. A custody battle continues.
"It has drained me and my family financially, emotionally and psychologically," he says.
"I'd say that a high percentage of the mail order women wanting to meet men are looking to use them, but I'm sure there are a few genuine ones."
The man is hoping he's third time lucky after meeting "a nice Kiwi woman" eight months ago.
"Maybe if we had met when I was younger I wouldn't be in this position."
It used to be mainly through personal ads placed in papers, but the internet makes finding a mail order love match more accessible.
Often it's sent as spam to email addresses or junk mail through the post.
Birkenhead Citizens Advice Bureau manager Wendy Overy says it's hugely traumatic and embarrassing for the men.
"The men come in here after they've been with the woman for three years and they usually have a child. They've come home after work and find the house and bank account cleaned out - no furniture, the cars are gone, literally everything is taken."
Mr Davis says the Russians "market themselves more aggressively".
"They are easy on the eye, caring and they cook and clean. They offer sex on tap and almost prostitute themselves because they are so desperate to get out of their country."
Mr Davis says they are quick to find out about the benefit system and how to use it to their advantage.
One Russian woman he spoke to when trying to help mediate supervised access to the child for one of the dads in the group, told him: "What I get on the DPB here is what my family in Russia earns a month. She knew the whole structure."
Mr Davis says a number of Kiwi men have been assaulted by family members they have brought over with their brides.
"They skulk away and give up and go because they get driven out of their homes."
He says some of the men who seek companionship are socially inept and others are in their mid 30s or early 40s, are single, getting lonely and tired of being on their own.
He says once in New Zealand Russian women often try to set up their sisters or friends from Russia.
In addition to paying the parent contribution after separation "many of the men are forking out more money because they are so desperate to see more of their kids".
"They are embarrassed and many are hugely bitter because they've invested so much and have basically been shafted and some go back again and find another."
So why do the men go for mail order brides?
Mrs Overy has a theory.
"I think the men perceive these brides as more pliable and submissive and will do anything to please their men. Some men want that but there often is a price to pay.
"Whereas New Zealand women are quite stroppy, very independent and we won't get pushed around."
Brian Gubb of Gubb's Lawyers specialises in matrimonial law.
His firm has dealt with a few cases involving mail order brides.
"Very often no sensible Kiwi woman would have a bar of the men.
"The normal population doesn't go for mail order brides, those who do are a particular type. They are lonely and sometimes dysfunctional.
"It's not very realistic to expect a lifetime partner through a mail order company. Most of the cases where they've brought the woman from overseas has been a disaster. Only a small number are successful."

By KIM REED - North Shore Times Thursday, 12 April 2007

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