Latvian brides

Fraud, rape and sexual exploitation as a result of EU rules combined with national, legal loopholes? An obvious question for journalists to look into. This weekend and today Jamie Smyth from the Irish Times publishes a series of articles about sham marriages in Ireland – and how Latvian women systematically are lured into them.

At the same time at the other end of the EU in Latvia his colleague Aleksandra Jolkina is finishing her book about the Latvian part of the story. Both journalists had been working on the story from each their country. Thanks to a research grant from they could cover travel costs and cooperate.

“Working together enabled both of us to identify contacts in each other countries that would have been difficult or impossible to source while working on our own,” says Jamie Smyth about the cooperation.

By cooperating they could overcome language difficulties and penetrate subjects and environments, they could not have accessed without the other. Read more about the common research efforts here – including Aleksandra’s report about how she set up a job seeking profile.

The story still goes on: 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 a “sham marriage”. These women are entering not only a fake marriage but also, often, an underworld of crime and abuse.

All links to articles in the Irish Times and in Latvia here.