Here we go again. A Canadian radio station is hosting a "Win A Wife" contest where men enter for a chance to fly to Moscow and hand select a mail-order bride of their choice. If this idea sounds familiar, it's because it's THE EXACT SAME contest that caused an uproar in New Zealand a few months ago.
Here's how that played out: a radio station offered men the chance for a round-trip ticket to Ukraine for a turn with a young woman who's supposedly fine with quickie weddings to sleezy tourists. What followed was outrage around the world. Facebook petitions tried to shut down the contest. Station advertisers pulled out in protest.
The radio station defended it's position as a matchmaking endeavor and simply removed the word "wife" from the contest name. But nobody felt any better, particularly a group of Ukrainian women who staged a demonstration in their country to warn the winner, some guy named Greg, that he wasn't welcome.
Well Greg went anyway, and hooked up with a college age 'prize' named Irina. He posed for pictures in a radio station t-shirt, cheek-to-cheek with his potential wife, sweating profusely, until everyone agreed it was time to put the whole thing to bed and never revisit it again.
A few months later The Bear radio station in Edmonton, Alberta has this great idea for contest. It's like that other one but in this time it's through a mail-order bride service in Moscow. The appropriate outrage has begun now that Alberta's immigration minister decided to pull its ads until the contest ends.
Somehow, radio DJ's aren't getting it: exploiting an international pool of young women and girls isn't cool with 90 percent of the population. The other 10 percent are essentially this guy.
The station has no plans of shutting down the contest, which they insist is more of a quest for love. But Volgagirl, the mail-order site sponsoring the contest, has an unconventional idea of romance. The company describes itself as "an integrity-based American company dedicated to providing a wide range of services to those men who are interested in finding a compatible Russian wife, usually beginning with email correspondence, web-cams, and interpretive phone calls and graduating to a face-to-face meeting, engagement and marriage."
The promise of a "wide range of services" is enough to sound alarm bells for many. If that doesn't do it, "web-cams" will.
"Modern-day sex slavery" is what Josephine Pallard calls it. As the executive director for Changing Together, she's worked with victims of mail-order organizations for 30 years.
The problem for some young brides registered at international mail-order sites is they don't have a choice. "They are either coerced into that position by despairing economic circumstances or they are coaxed into it by illegal elements," explains Thomas Lukaszuk, Alberta's immigration minister to the Vancouver Sun.
Another sign that this kind of contest might not be a two way street: the contestant pool. One eager listener named Danny Lozchuk, 27, told cbc news he's entering the contest as a last ditch effort. "I've been trying in Canada and Edmonton and no luck, so I'll try my luck overseas and see what I can do."
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