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Described as a form of marriage of convenience, the practice is illegal in many countries.
With stories of famine, disease and dissension, the European women feared that leaving England and traveling to the colony would be of great risk.
Human Rights in China states that it is more affordable for a man to buy a wife from a trafficker for 2,000 to 4,000 yuan than to pay a traditional dowry, which often runs upwards of 10,000 yuan.
For the average urban worker, wife selling is an affordable option when in 1998 China urban workers make approximately a month.
The Virginia Company offered women who chose to leave England in favor of the colony generous incentives such as linens, clothing, a plot of land, and their choice of husband.
After a husband was chosen, he would then pay the Virginia Company with 150 pounds of "good leaf" tobacco (which is equivalent to roughly 00 USD in today's currency) to pay for their brides passage to the colony.
The need to purchase a bride arises from the low female-to-male ratio.
Such low ratio was caused by the preference to give birth sons instead of daughters, and female foeticide.
The bride-traders sell women as brides or as prostitutes depending on their physical appearance.In 2006, according to BBC News, there were around 861 women for every 1,000 men in Haryana; and the national ratio in India as a whole was 927 women for every 1,000 men.Women are not only purchased as brides or wives, but also as farm workers or househelp.If not born into wealth, most people would need to obtain significant savings before being able to wed.
The majority of working-class Englishwomen turned to domestic service to acquire the necessary funds to marry and martial immigration offered an enticing alternative to what otherwise would be years doing remedial work for meager pay.Fang Yuzhu of the China Women's Federation credits it with a "strong sense of duty" that Chinese women have, and the idea that it is shameful to leave their husband.