Some agencies offer the men “romance tours” — or as another agency called it “the ultimate guys holiday” — to Colombia, where they are promised the opportunity to meet dozens of women for marriage (or a fling). The tours start at $1,595 and include a hotel room, two mixers, and sometimes a private beauty pageant. Airfare and most other expenses aren’t covered, and some men have estimated they spent from US $10,000 to $20,000 on the trip. Often, the men are regular customers. They seem lonely and socially awkward, and are pleased with the ratio of 10 women for one man.
The women said they were seeking a visa to the U.S., the money they get paid, and clothes. It is unlikely the women are looking for love.
And it is unlikely the rendez-vous will end in love. The Las Vegas Sun documented a case in 2007 of a Colombian Internet bride who was systematically beaten and tortured by her husband, until she finally fled.
Rates of abuse in marriages between American men and foreign women may be nearly three times higher than in the general U.S. population, according to figures from the Tahirih Justice Center, a Virginia-based advocacy group for battered immigrant women.
The center helped push for the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2005 that imposes regulations and safeguards for people who meet their mates on marriage sites. The law includes a requirement for marriage brokerage sites to collect criminal histories of its clients, and to show those background checks to the women who sign up to date them.
Marriage brokering is a US $2 billion international industry.