A New Zealand radio station, 'The Rock' is currently running a competition to win a Ukranian wife. Yes indeed, a competition to win another human being.
I am appalled.
People in favour of the 'Win a Wife' competition have said "oh lighten up it's just a joke". Would a competition to 'win a real African slave' be OK? Treating other humans as commodities is not a joke. Buying humans as part of a monetary transaction is never OK.
Others have pointed out that wife-buying is actually a social service - you know, 'rescuing' these poor women from their situations. Kind of like buying child pornography helps feed and clothe the child 'models'? If you really want to help Ukranian women, get in touch with the many international aid organisations and find out how to do this.
The other dismaying effect this competition has had is to legitimise the dehumanising of women. A quick look through The Rock's commentary on this competition, and the entrant's 'profiles' is profoundly depressing. Furthermore, the Ukranian 'jokes' stemming from this competition are extremely offensive to the Ukranian community.
I have been vocal in my opposition to this campaign, and have helped set up the Facebook campaign Stop The Rock's 'Win a Wife' campaign. This has been live for only a matter of hours and the response has been incredible. If you also think the 'Win a Wife' competition is a world of wrong, please join us on the Facebook page. We are encouraging people to write to the radio station's advertisers to voice their dismay.
A number of people have written excellent posts on this topic and I encourage you to read them:
**Update 16/2/11: I want to clarify when I stand on this competition, as it seems some people are wildly generalising. I have not made any comment with regards to online dating, human trafficking, analogies with prostitution or about the situation faced by women in Ukraine. This is because I don't know enough about any of these topics to comment. Many people do know much more than me, and it's been interesting reading their commentary on various blogs and forums. I still haven't come to any conclusions myself on these, so I'll just keep learning.
I DO know where I stand on this issue though: women are not commodities to be won, and this competition is legitimising the degradation of women in New Zealand, that old notion of women as second-class citizens. We're better than this New Zealand.
The following is a letter to the NZ Broadcasting Standards Authority from the Embassy of Ukraine in Australia. (They don't have an embassy in NZ, so the Australian embassy acts on their behalf).
Rachel is a writer and educator whose fields of interest include sexuality education, gender, feminism and youth development.