* MCT photo. Age gap: Oscar winning writer and director Woody Allen caused a scandal when it was revealed he was seeing the adopted daughter of his ex-partner Mia Farrow, Soon-Yi Previn, both above. Allen, now 75, married the South Korean, now 39, in 1997, with many claiming he was as good as marrying his daughter.
* MCT photo. Age gap: Oscar winning writer and director Woody Allen caused a scandal when it was revealed he was seeing the adopted daughter of his ex-partner Mia Farrow, Soon-Yi Previn, both above. Allen, now 75, married the South Korean, now 39, in 1997, with many claiming he was as good as marrying his daughter.
Government has claimed women are being brought to Bermuda from the Dominican Republic to work as prostitutes. It was also said older Bermudian men are marrying girls in their early twenties from the Dominica, Panama and the Philippines - who do not speak a word of English - and many are then abused to the extent they are forced to seek refuge from domestic violence.

As a result, Government announced a new visa requirement for nationals of these countries and applications will be closely vetted. In the wake of this, I imagined what an encounter between an elderly Bermudian gent and his youthful mail order bride might be like.


I came out of Magistrates' Court last Tuesday and bumped into my cousin Stanley. He had a grin on his face and a girl on his arm young enough to be his daughter.

Not his real daughter, of course. She moved back to the Dominican Republic with Stan's first wife when they learned English and found out that most of what Stan said was ignorant or offensive.

Proudly

"Well, helloooo there," I said. "My name is Tom."

The girl stared blankly. "Tom," I repeated slowly, pointing to my chest. "Me Tom."

"Much pleased meet you, mister sir," she said with a smile.

"Suzie doesn't speak a word of English," Stan said proudly, the way another man might boast that his fiancée had a doctorate in microbiology. "We're going to get married."

"Where'd you meet her?" I asked. "L. F. Wade," Stan said, making it sound like a respected university or church instead of a modest-sized airport.

"Oh, a mail order bride," I exclaimed.

"That's an offensive term," he stated. "We met through a website. There is a questionnaire and everything, so they can tell if you're compatible.

"If the girls aren't beautiful, they don't even get on the web."

I asked Stan what he and Suzie were doing in Hamilton.

"We're looking for the Colonel," he said, referring to Senator David Burch, the Immigration Minister. "He has to approve everything. We tried to make an appointment but we couldn't get one until next December."

"Much pleased to meet you, mister sir," Suzie said, for no apparent reason.

"The Colonel is a busy man," I pointed out. "He has to vet the work permits you know.

"And now they are introducing visas for everyone from the Philippines, Panama and the Dominican Republic. That's hundreds of people and the Colonel says he will be vetting all them personally.

"Don't forget he is the Minister responsible for police, too. They have all these shootings to solve, not to mention all the road deaths we've kind of forgotten about.

"The Colonel was also very ill for a very long time.

"Now he says he is going to clamp down on arranged marriages and make sure people don't get work permits if they can't speak English."

Suzie smiled and said: "Much pleased to meet you, mister sir."

"That's why I need to see him," said Stan. "The Colonel can't do all this, he doesn't have time. Even if he has help, what does he know about marriage?

"What does the Colonel or anybody else know about what makes two people happy? Does he think the internet isn't as good as meeting some woman drunk in a bar and getting married when she gets knocked up?

"This is what I want to show him," said Stan, shoving a piece of paper in my face.

Legitimate

It was a report from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration service showing that mail order marriages are actually more successful than other kinds.

The report states: "Marriages arranged through these services have a lower divorce rate than the nation as a whole. Eighty per cent have lasted over the years for which reports are available."

"But come on, Stanley," I complained. "You get on a website, find a mail order bride who is half your age and doesn't speak your language and you call it a legitimate marriage?"

"Listen," Stan said. "There are people who marry because the girl has big knockers or the guy has lots of money.

"There are foreigners who get married to Bermudians so they can stay here and Bermudians who wed foreigners so they can live somewhere else.

"People marry for all kinds of reasons. Who are you to judge? Who is the Colonel to judge?"

"Much pleased to meet you, mister sir," Suzie added.

Then off they charged. I don't know whether Stan and Suzie will be happy but I reckon they were trying, in the best way they knew how, and maybe that is all any of us can ever do.