Net brides lured and abused by Bay men
White, middle-aged Western Bay men are luring poverty-stricken internet brides from overseas by lying about their income and occupation – and then using the women as virtual slaves after they arrive.
Tauranga Women’s Refuge currently has five internet brides in abusive relationships on its books – two Americans, one South American, one Polynesian and one from Thailand – and has dealt with a total of at least 10 in the past year.
Those numbers did not account for those who were too afraid to come forward.
The refuge estimates that in general three-quarters of internet brides have been sexually abused.
To escape their marriages and stay in the country, women must prove domestic violence or police involvement in their case which was a slow and difficult process, Miss McLean said.
Miss McLean is outraged the marriages are still legal and wants a blanket ban on them.
New Zealand law currently allows internet brides to be “purchased”. Once married, these women often depend on their husbands to stay in this country legally.
But under the Department of Labour’s “victims of domestic violence” policy, women can apply for special permits to stay in New Zealand without sponsorship if they can prove police intervention or domestic violence.
Five such applications have been approved for the Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Coromandel since 2001. One application has been approved so far this year.
Police family violence co-ordinator Detective Jason Perry was not aware of any reported cases of internet bride abuse in the Bay. “I’m sure it does go on but there’s nothing that has come to our attention. We know it’s out there but these people are more likely to go to those social services.”