‘Sham marriages’: why European countries has to log off its high horse

‘Sham marriages’: why European countries has to log off its high horse


Postdoctoral research other, University of Amsterdam

Disclosure statement

Apostolos Andrikopoulos doesn’t work for, consult, very very own stocks in or get financing from any business or organization that could reap the benefits of this short article, and contains disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their educational visit.


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“how come you need to marry a Nigerian?”, a https://besthookupwebsites.org/video-dating/ visa officer at a European embassy in Nigeria asked Helen while her partner ended up being interviewed in a nearby space. “I’m asking this more as a daddy than an officer,” the man included.

Him,” Helen answered“Because I love.

Marriages with non-European nationals, such as compared to Helen and her Nigerian partner, tend to be suspected of being “sham” and afflicted by controls that are strict. A“sham marriage” or a “marriage of convenience” is one that’s contracted with the purpose of enabling the migrant spouse to obtain a visa or a residence permit for immigration authorities.

The officer did actually accept that Helen and her partner had been in a relationship and planned to have hitched. But he had been nevertheless doubting the motives of her Nigerian partner. “Do you see that?” he asked Helen, pointing together with his little finger to a building opposite the embassy. “Yes, i actually do,” she responded.

Well, a man that is nigerian with the capacity of attempting to sell you this building today and the next day you recognise that the building never really existed.

A couple of weeks later on, Helen along with her partner received the news headlines that their visa demand was indeed refused. The reason why given was there were doubts about if the wedding motives regarding the man that is nigerian “genuine”.

This tale had been recounted if you ask me by Helen while I became research that is conducting the problem for the role marriages play in gaining entry to countries in europe. In the last years many have begun investigating marriages involving spouses that are foreign. Limitations and settings to marriage migration, which might end in maintaining the partners aside, tend to be justified as necessary measures to safeguard females from bad marriages. The causes provided is the fact that these are typically “sham”, “forced” or “arranged”.

Such claims offer legitimacy to countries that are european intervene in the intimate everyday lives of partners. Immigration authorities deter all but that is“love-based. In this context, love becomes an instrument for migration control as well as protecting the career of married females (as seen by these authorities).

The differentiation between “sham” and “genuine” marriage is dependant on the presumption that motives of love and interest are split from one another. In a present article i argue that this dichotomy is simplistic and deceptive. We question the proven fact that love is through standard beneficial to ladies, particularly when love is recognized as unrelated to interest.

This article is dependant on ethnographic fieldwork i did so during the period of per year into the Netherlands, Greece and Ghana regarding the marriages of West African migrants with European females. The fieldwork included interviews with partners, solicitors and immigration officers.

Sham versus genuine

I challenge a fundamental presumption in the debate on “sham” versus “genuine”, that is that love and interest are mutually exclusive. Evidence indicates they’re not.

As my studies have shown, marriages between African and European nationals are inspired both by interest (documents, cash) and feelings (love, care, intimate enjoyment). The entanglement of intimate emotions with product gains will not make these marriages distinct from the people of non-migrant partners. On the other hand, I argue they are quite similar.

Think, for instance, of partners whom formalised their relationship for reasons such as for instance taxation purposes, inheritance and social safety. Feminist and kinship scholars also have remarked that wedding constantly involves exchanges of numerous resources and solutions between partners – sometimes explicitly, often maybe maybe not. Included in these are care, monetary protection, love, intercourse and work that is domestic.

An extra element is norms of love vary for men and ladies. The expectation to show love for family members through self-sacrifice is more typical for females compared to guys.

The paradox

Immigration policies were created in the assumption that love cannot co-exist with trade. Countries in europe justify deciding against cross-broder marriages in the grounds that the ideal is being used by them of like to protect ladies. But right right here lies the paradox: this ideal may deprive females of these bargaining power in wedding and their quest for recognition in a relationship.

That is why, the dichotomies of love and interest and of “sham” versus “genuine” marriage aren’t just inaccurate and deceptive. They’re also possibly disempowering, especially for feminine partners.

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