Declaration of the International Conference on Border Control and Empowerment of Immigrant Brides
29 and 30 September 2007
We, the delegates of the International Conference on Border Control and Empowerment of Immigrant Brides from
We believe that the implementation of the policies of neoliberal globalization has drastically increased the number of women forced into transnational marriages for an opportunity for a better life. Poverty, intensified by the neoliberal globalization agenda, has put women from underdeveloped and developing countries in situations vulnerable to abuse and exploitation by marriage bureaus and matchmaking agencies through various modus operandi.
We believe that, though transnational marriages are facilitated by the private sector, governments of countries of origin of immigrant brides allow the proliferation of practices of matchmaking agencies and marriage bureaus because these generate income for the government.
Much like the migrant workers, the increase of immigrant brides translate to even more revenue for the governments of countries of origin in the form of fees that the women or their prospective husband are forced to pay as well as the remittances their nationals are expected to send. This leads to further commodification of immigrant brides as women and as immigrants.
Governments of countries of origin pay lipservice to issues of women, migrants and immigrants; lack political will to implement policies beneficial to women and immigrant brides; provide minimal, if not nil, services and protection especially to immigrant brides who have been victimized by violence, and; lack decisive actions to address the root causes of why more and more women are forced to become immigrant brides.
We believe that in countries of destination, the situation of immigrant women is worsening. The crisis that destination countries of immigrants brides are experiencing, compounded by the continuing anti-terror hysteria, has resulted to government policies that are more restrictive and repressive to immigrant brides as well as to the larger community of immigrants and migrant workers.
Policies on border control of host countries have become even tighter in the past years and have diminished the rights of immigrant brides in the economic, political, civil and social aspects of the society. Discrimination against immigrant brides is rampant. Violence against immigrant brides, both at home and in the larger society, also persists.
We believe that governments of countries of origin and host countries of immigrant brides must work for an international mechanism that shall comprehensively address the condition of immigrant brides. While there are already existing international instruments that may cover some issues of immigrant brides, these are not enough and even these are not properly and conscientiously implemented.
We believe in the importance of empowering immigrant brides in the grassroots level to build and strengthen the movement of immigrant brides actively pushing for their rights and working together to uphold their welfare.
The movement of immigrant brides, with the important support and assistance that intitutions can provide, shall ensure the individual and collective empowerment of immigrant brides. In the experiences of many countries – both countries of destination and countries of origin – changes in policies that imperil the rights of immigrant brides can be achieved if we rely on the strength of the immigrant brides themselves. Even beyond the changes in policies, new policies that are more equitable to immigrant brides can be fought for and eventually won through actions in the grassroots level.
In recognition of the objective situation of unequal development of grassroots immigrants brides movements in different countries, we shall persevere to learn from each other’s experiences and uphold the lessons of effective advocacy, education and organizing work among immigrant brides.
We commit to form a broader and stronger network in order to strengthen our coordination and cooperation for future actions and activities on the issues of immigrant brides. While we harness the broadest unity on matters of immigrant brides in the international level, we will also advance local struggles –both countries of destination and countries of origin – of immigrant brides and aim for concrete gains to alleviate their situation.
We recognize the primacy of education work and public information to deepen understanding on the different dimensions of the immigrant brides phenomenon for even more effective actions.
We also uphold the need for empowerment of immigrant brides in the grassroots level in the comprehensive work of advancing the rights and wellbeing of immigrant brides.
With the stronger solidarity forged, we, delegates of the International Conference on Border Control and Empowerment of Immigrant Brides commit ourselves to the following actions:
- Identify national issues where the network can call for coordinated actions among the members.
- Formulate advocacy plans to push the United Nations to come up with a convention that specifically addresses the concerns of immigrant brides.
- Create venues where the network can meet and further develop the planned actions.
Research and Education
- Launch comparative studies on policies that impact immigrant brides to deepen our understanding on the various dimensions of the issue.
- Conduct studies and training on organizing of immigrant brides in destination countries and in countries of origin.
- Document and publish stories on the different levels of empowerment of immigrant brides
- Facilitate exchange programs between organizations of immigrant brides as well as institutions working with immigrant brides to learn from each other’s experiences,
- Actively participate in the development of an international movement of im/migrant organizations (International Migrant Alliance)