The Dangerous Search for Foreign Men

Getting out of poverty is only one side of the story.


In Davao City, Philippines, Joanne’s co-workers are talking about her flight to Sweden at the end of June. The 28-year-old teacher will leave the country for good to marry her 36-year-old Swedish boyfriend, Mark. Rumor has it that the couple will get married in Sweden and Joanne, who paid her professional degree’s tuition by working as a housemaid since 12, has always looked forward to the day of her marriage.

The Dangerous Search for Foreign Men

In third world countries, being married to a foreigner from a relatively wealthier nation is a woman’s story of success. Why not? It becomes an instant way out of the poverty, not just for the woman but for her immediate family. Marrying a foreigner has become synonymous with searching for greener pasture. When a woman ends up with a foreign man even as old as 70, her relatives talk about it with a source of pride, while friends and other people perceive it as a source of both envy and inspiration.

The Dangerous Search for Foreign Men

But getting out of poverty is only one side of the story.

The Dangerous Search for Foreign MenA woman who marries a foreigner primarily for financial stability has to sacrifice other important things. Away from her country, she has no choice but to entrust her life to the hands of one man. She becomes dependent on him not just for money, but for emotional support. She might come to build friendships and establish connections with people in the foreign land, but everything takes time. The trusted friends and close relatives whom she can go to in times of troubles are sadly thousands of miles away.

In the worst scenarios, the woman’s knight-in-shining-armor may turn out to be a monster in disguise. After luring the victim into his lair, he reveals his real identity by treating his wife not as a partner but only as a servant, a sex slave and an occasional punching bag. With no one to go to, the wife is forever trapped in this hell until the day of her death (which may, unfortunately, come sooner than previously expected).

The unsuspecting woman may also become a victim of human trafficking. Coming to the foreign man’s place, she could be raped, locked in dark rooms, and eventually forced to work as drug courier or as a prostitute in residential brothels. But for as long as there is poverty and marriage seems to be the only way out, women cannot be stopped from undergoing interracial marriages and going to foreign lands to look for greener pastures.

The Dangerous Search for Foreign MenOK. Enough thinking about worst case scenarios. Despite all the potential downfalls in marrying supposedly wealthy men in foreign lands, there are also just as many stories of triumph — modern Cinderella tales. As in the case of Joanne, marrying her boyfriend in Sweden is a risk that seems to be worth a try. She has been acting tough all her life, trying to help lessen her family’s financial problems. To Joanne, and to all the women who are hoping for a better life through interracial marriage, may they live to have all the liberty and freedom in the world wherever fate takes them.


Avatar of Angela Davis

Originally from Denver and now living in NYC, Angie has been writing since she was small. She lives in the Flatiron district with her partner Tanya and their mutt Sparky (always adopt!) In her spare time she loves to paint (mostly abstract) and talk to random people on the street to find out what's interesting to them.

Reader Discussion: 12 Comments

  1. Avatar of Ocean Bickley

    Ocean Bickley

    Making choices like that and leaving everything to chances is dumb, I reckon. Why would you choose something that you know might fail? Have you even weigh the consequences or learn the details of your arrangements? Do you know your partner well to entrust your life to him? Unlike what the article said, I don’t believe that there are “as many stories of triumph” as those who fail. That’s b*llshit.

  2. Avatar of Rachelle Smith

    Rachelle Smith

    This article/story should be a lesson to everyone who seeks fortune through easy ways. It is so much risk to take, without any assurance that once you go, you can always go back. One should think things through before making important decisions like this that could change one’s life forever.

  3. Avatar of Michelle Norris

    Michelle Norris

    Sponsors (wealthy fiancees, for that matter) have rights to be protected, too. Like in this case, where I presume the girl to be using the marriage as leverage, the partner should insist that she sign a prenuptial agreement before marrying to shield him from the potential of losing a lot after a possible split. Although, even agreements like this will not absolve a US sponsor of any liabilities for the foreign spouse’s post-separation claims when it comes to matters related to immigration.

  4. Avatar of Anna Hendrickson

    Anna Hendrickson

    To young girls out there, be careful when chatting with someone on Snapchat or Facebook or other social media platforms, especially when you look for bae overseas. Yes, it can be fun, but think of the risks and your family. I once chatted with some Swedish guy, but when he learned I have a daughter, he suddenly won’t reach me as he used to. Guys change when they learn something they are not comfortable with, even over the internet. What more if you are together?

  5. Avatar of Blaise Dalton

    Blaise Dalton

    Good luck doing that here on the US. With all the shift in immigration policies and government lockdown on even hiring foreign workers, you can’t expect US visa application to be a walk in the park. It will cost you more than you thought, and, chances are, you will be denied entry.

  6. Avatar of Phoebe Mueller

    Phoebe Mueller

    Good going, Joanne! I mean, to be a housemaid since 12? Isn’t it a child labor thing? She earned a degree by scrubbing, cleaning, sweeping, doing the laundry or shopping for household items, etc.? Whoa! That is one hard life she had. How did she manage to do that? She’s really one tough girl. Glad she found somebody that changed her life in an instant. I haven’t even finished my degree yet…

  7. Avatar of Jennifer Hartmann

    Jennifer Hartmann

    It is not for love that they are marrying those guys, but for the money. But not later do most of them realize that they are trapped, without an identity of their own because they are just objects of pleasure or abuse. They are paying with their own life for the opportunity they are dreaming of. In the end, it is only just a dream.

  8. Avatar of Stephanie Craig

    Stephanie Craig

    Gosh! If I were them, I would climb my way up to success even if it is so hard that I had to bleed for it, so I can’t get a wacko for a husband! Like what you said, not anyone is lucky enough to find some “prince charming” who will save one from distress or poverty or whatever. But, I am not like them, I am quite content with my life right now. I honestly hope it worked out fine for Joanne, though I can’t think of a reason why she wants to get out of her country so bad. She even has her professional degree as a teacher! Isn’t it enough?

  9. Avatar of Hannah Mayers

    Hannah Mayers

    I believe “cultural differences” always have a role in preventing that “happily ever after.” For instance, one culture may think that treating a wife differently (like asking wife to do ALL household work, not allowing her to practice career and just giving her money enough for the family’s budget) may be normal to one culture but abusive to other culture(s).

  10. Avatar of Sarah Evanston

    Sarah Evanston

    It cannot be denied that at a young age, girls have been fantasizing and believing in “happily ever after.” Stories that we grew up with made us believe in happy endings. We think that that “man” from faraway land would help us with our current struggles and will give us that “happily ever after” in the end. However, more often than not, the opposite happens 🙁

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