RIGA - Hundreds of women come to Ireland each year to marry non-Europeans – with the sole aim of securing visas for their new husbands. Most of them are from poor Eastern European states such as Latvia and Lithuania, where the offer of a few thousand euros is enough to lure women into such a “sham marriage”.

These women are entering not only a fake marriage but also, often, an underworld of crime and abuse. Latvian journalist Aleksandra Jolkina and Irish Times social affairs correspondent Jamie Smyth investigate how the marriage scams work. The marriages are organised by criminal gangs recruiting either 'brides' or 'grooms'. The project maps the lackluster and disjointed response of the Irish authorities, which has allowed the scam to flourish. It identifies the increasing frustration of the Latvian authorities, who are seeing a growing number of their citizens becoming involved and getting into trouble.

Aleksandra Jolkina published a book about this topic for which she was nominated as "Latvia’s 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report hero" by the United States Embassy to Latvia.

Latvian brides story quoted across Europe (and beyond).

Team members

Aleksandra Jolkina

Aleksandra Jolkina is a former Deutsche Welle journalist who now works in academia.

picture of Aleksandra Jolkina

Jamie Smyth

Jamie Smyth is an Irish journalist based in Sydney (Australia).

Grant of €4.000 awarded on05/07/2010

Publication in Ireland (Irish Times) in October 2010.

Publication in Latvia

Book: 'Piesmietā misis Eiropa'
Published in 2011 by Zvaigzne ABC.
ISBN: 9789934015519

Book launch and book reviews in Latvia

Quotations of the story in other countries

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