PODCAST: Filipino mail-order brides are still an issue Canada and in pop culture

mail order family

In September, NBC greenlit a sitcom called Mail Order Family. The plot would center around a widowed single father who orders a mail-order bride from the Philippines to help raise his two preteen daughters. Online backlash was swift, as people asked what was so funny about the exploitation of marginalized Filipino women, so plans to produce the show were cancelled, but that doesn’t mean the issue of mail-order brides and the racist stereotypes that surround them have gone away.

Charlene Sayo was part of a team from the Philippine Women Centre of B.C. (PWC) that conducted a study on Filipino women who came to Canada, either explicitly as mail-order brides or via the caregiver program (previously called the live-in caregiver program), who were now living in provinces across Canada — often isolated in rural areas — with their new husbands and families. The PWC includes domestic workers, mail-order brides, prostituted women, as well as other Filipino women who are forced to emigrate as part of globalization under the umbrella of trafficking.

In this episode, I speak with Charlene about these programs, as well the stereotypes and the struggles Filipino women face today in Canada and beyond.

Charlene Sayo is blogger, commentator, and co-author of Canada: The New Frontier for Filipino Mail-Order Brides. She also hosts MsRepresent: Behind the Face, A Fierce Woman.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • MJ

    Why aren’t men outraged by the fact that the media presents them as weak beings who can’t actually raise their own children? Single mothers do it all the time and have full time jobs.

  • fxduffy

    For Philippino women, this must be the worst of times. For beyond the chronic poverty, sex trafficking, and colonialism, there’s the new sexist President, Rodrigo Duterte, who very recently openly regretted that he was not able to participate in the 1989 gang rape of a “beautiful” Australian missionary. He also called Pope Francis “a son of a whore.” And isn’t at all abash at mentioning his fondness for Viagra.

    In his extra-legal (to put it politely) war on drugs, he directly executes drugs dealers, or releases them back into angry nabes who act as lynch mobs. I don’t know how many women have been executed under his reign of terror, but some have been tortured.

    Many Philippino feminist org.s (including the Coalition Against Trafficking) opposed his candidacy.