Many women find themselves victims of domestic violence after participating in largely unregulated 'International Marriage Broker' industry matchmaking.
Assembly Bill 634, a bill by Assemblywoman Sally J. Lieber (D-San Jose) to protect mail order brides from domestic violence, was heard today by the California Legislature's Joint Committee on Boards, Commissions, and Consumer Protection. The bill would require that criminal background checks and other information be provided to prospective brides so that they can have a better understanding of the person they are considering marrying.
Nationwide there have been several dozen cases of domestic violence and even murder committed against women who come to the United States as mail order brides. There are at least seven documented cases in California; many more are believed to go unreported. California is believed to have over 70 marriage brokers operating in the state.
Under Assemblywoman Lieber's bill, international marriage brokers-as the mail-order bride industry is called-must obtain a license to operate in the state of California. Employees of these companies would be required to undergo criminal background checks, and those with certain violent criminal histories would be prohibited from practicing. The bill would further require that International Marriage Brokers provide those who come to the U.S. as potential spouses with information about their rights in the U.S. as well as resources for escaping domestic violence.
A.B. 634 passed the Assembly unanimously in May. The bill moved to the Senate, where it has been awaiting a hearing by the Joint Committee, which reviews all proposals to establish new regulations in California. Today's review was an informational hearing. The Committee will meet again in January to vote on recommendations on A.B. 634 and other bills.
This legislation is one of several bills that Assemblywoman Lieber has authored to address trafficking and other forms of international exploitation of women and girls. Early this year, Governor Schwarzenegger signed Lieber's A.B. 22, considered one of the most comprehensive state laws addressing the crime of human trafficking.
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