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

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


Postdoctoral research other, University of Amsterdam

Disclosure statement

Apostolos Andrikopoulos doesn’t work for, consult, own stocks in or get financing from any business or organization that will reap the benefits of this short article, and it has disclosed no appropriate affiliations beyond their scholastic visit.


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“how come you need to marry a Nigerian?”, a 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 being a daddy than an officer,” the man included.

Him,” Helen answered“Because I love.

Marriages with non-European nationals, such as compared to Helen along with her Nigerian partner, in many cases are suspected of being “sham” and put through controls that are strict. For immigration authorities, a “sham marriage” or even a “marriage of convenience” is just one that’s contracted utilizing the intent behind enabling the migrant partner to get a visa or even a residence license.

The officer did actually accept that Helen and her partner had been in a relationship and planned to have married. But he had been nevertheless doubting the motives of her Nigerian partner. “Do you see that?” he asked Helen, pointing together with little finger to a building opposite swinger dating website 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 actually existed.

A couple weeks later on, Helen along with her partner received the news headlines that their visa demand was in fact rejected. The reason why given was there have been doubts about whether or not the wedding motives associated with the Nigerian man were “genuine”.

This story had been recounted if you ask me by Helen while I became research that is conducting the matter associated with the role marriages play in gaining entry to countries in europe. Within the last years many have begun investigating marriages involving spouses that are foreign. Limitations and settings to marriage migration, that may end in maintaining the partners aside, tend to be justified as necessary measures to guard ladies from bad marriages. The reason why offered is they have been “sham”, “forced” or “arranged”.

Such claims offer legitimacy to countries that are european intervene into the intimate 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 will be based upon 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 misleading. We question the proven fact that love is by default beneficial to females, particularly when love is comprehended as unrelated to interest.

The content is founded on ethnographic fieldwork i did so during the period of per year into the Netherlands, Greece and Ghana on the marriages of West migrants that are african European ladies. The fieldwork included interviews with partners, attorneys and immigration officers.

Sham versus genuine

We challenge a simple presumption in the debate on “sham” versus “genuine”, which will be that love and interest are mutually exclusive. Evidence shows they’re not.

As my studies have shown, marriages between African and European nationals are motivated both by interest (documents, cash) and emotions (love, care, intimate satisfaction). The entanglement of intimate emotions with product gains doesn’t make these marriages distinctive from the people of non-migrant partners. Quite the opposite, we argue that they’re virtually identical.

Think, as an example, of couples whom formalised their relationship for reasons such as for instance income tax purposes, inheritance and social protection. Feminist and kinship scholars have remarked that wedding constantly involves exchanges of varied resources and solutions between spouses – sometimes clearly, often perhaps maybe not. Included in these are care, monetary safety, love, intercourse and domestic work.

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

The paradox

Immigration policies were created from the presumption that love cannot co-exist with change. Countries in europe justify determining against cross-broder marriages in the grounds that these are typically making use of the ideal of like to protect females. But here lies the paradox: this ideal may deprive females of the bargaining power in wedding and their pursuit of recognition in a relationship.

Because of this, the dichotomies of love and interest and of “sham” versus “genuine” marriage are not just inaccurate and deceptive. They’re also possibly disempowering, especially for feminine partners.

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