Joint Open Statement, 1 November 2003

GABRIELA Purple Rose Campaign Against the Sex Trafficking of Filipinas



In Seattle, WA, of all places, where two Filipinas were gunned down in a courthouse by the demented husband of one of them, who bought her name, address and picture from a mail-order bride agency, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., marketed for Halloween a mail-order bride costume (see attached picture)--a wedding gown festooned with postmarks and stamps.  Why not blood and bruises and wounds on the gown to show how brutalized many of these poor women become, as they are deprived of a future by the predatory policies of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the World Trade Organization, and are forced to sell themselves in the international sex market and international labor market?  Why not a corresponding costume for the johns who buy these women as free domestic labor and free sex providers?  Why not a costume for the men who purchase women from impoverished countries to use as punching bags, household slaves and prey for serial killings and murder?  Why not a corresponding costume for the johns who buy these women as free domestic labor and free sex providers? Why not a costume for the men who purchase women from impoverished countries to use as punching bags, household slaves and prey for serial killings and murder?

Already wading through a maelstrom of labor, racist and sexist troubles, Wal-Mart continues to be intransigent in its insensitivity.  Situated in the heart of Seattle, WA, Wal-Mart seems to be immune to the intense pain and sorrow occasioned by the courtroom murder of seven-months pregnant Susana Remerata Blackwell and her close friend.  To this day, mention of this murder and/or Susana’s name is enough to stir feelings of sorrow and helplessness over the kind of tragedy that befalls an individual but whose roots are found in the inherent injustice of Philippine-American relations stretching all the way back to 1898. 

We can list the names of Filipinas who have been abused, chained, murdered from the East Coast to the West Coast;  Filipinas whose only guilt was to feel an overwhelming responsibility towards their parents, brothers and sisters, stomped into inescapable poverty by IMF/WB/WTO policies implemented by a succession of self-aggrandizing and corrupt Philippine presidents and governments.  We can name them one by one and each name would be a stake to the heart of every Filipina and woman of Philippine ancestry in this country. 

But even as we sorrow for these women and for those who continue to come to these shores in search of relief from the despair and futility that life in the Philippines has become, we will take action against entities like Wal-Mart Stores which demonize them, holding cheap these women’s noblest impulse to help their families and relatives. 

We call on all women--of whatever ethnicity and race--to join us in compelling Wal-Mart to acknowledge and apologize for adding insult to the injury already done to the community of Filipinas and of women by the murders of Susana Remerata Blackwell and her friend, by the murders of other women purchased from mail-order bride agencies, by the abuse, battery and oppression of all these women from various parts of the world who are compelled into marriage largely because of continuing gender oppression and discrimination. 

Please write or call or fax the following persons and inform them that you will not buy anything from Wal-Mart, not even enter any of its stores, until the company's CEO acknowledges the error of marketing a mail-order bride costume for Halloween.  This acknowledgement should be accompanied by the company’s donation of some of its huge profits to the struggle against the sex and labor trafficking of women.  It is time to hold corporations responsible for sexist, racist and class oppressive imagery used to bolster profit!!!

A CALL TO ACTION -- Write, fax and/or call:
S. Robson Walton, Chairman of the Board
David D. Glass, Chairman, Executive Committee of the Board
H. Lee Scott, President and Chief Executive Officer

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

702 Southwest Eighth Street

Bentonville, Arkansas 72716

Phone:  1-505-277-0425

FAX:  1-505-277-5991

Points to mention: 1. The MOB costume demonized women of other races and nationalities who are actually victimized by commercial marriage agencies;  2. Many of these women have been killed and many are still being battered;  3. You will not buy anything from Wal-Mart and will convince everybody you can reach not to buy anything from Wal-Mart until the CEO apologizes for this racist, sexist and xenophobic costume;  4. To show its goodwill, Wal-Mart should donate some of its profits to the fight against the traffic of women, both sexual and labor-related.

Send a copy of your protest to us:


PO Box 403, Times Square Station

New York, NY   10036

Email:  gabnet@gabnet.org or spokesperson@purplerosecampaign.org