Mainland women seen as 'breeders and sex objects'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 July, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 July, 2000, 12:00am

One in five mainland wives in the SAR are treated by their husbands as sex objects, maids, 'breeding machines', or all three, a survey has found.

More than 30 per cent believe relatives and neighbours look down on them, and eight per cent feel they are discriminated against even by their own children who settled in the SAR before them, the ground-breaking survey reveals.

One hundred mainland wives who arrived in the past three years were interviewed by the Hong Kong Federation of Women's Centres in the first study of its kind, federation education officer Joyce Ho Mei-yee said.

One woman who settled in the SAR two years ago said her husband liked to call her 'a stupid mainland woman'.

'He loves to call me stupid, complaining that I am jobless and do not read English,' the woman said.

'He complains I know nothing but always spend his money. In fact my case is not the worst. Some of my friends are beaten by their husbands and have to be treated in hospital.' Government statistics show that 123,000 married women settled in the SAR in the seven years up to last year. More than 40 per cent are educated only to primary school level.

Ms Ho said it was alarming that nearly 20 per cent of women were discriminated against by their husbands. She said she feared the figures showed only the tip of the iceberg, since many women were reluctant to disclose their hardship.

'Some women complain that their husbands treat them as servants brought from the mainland. Some mainland wives are treated as 'breeding machines' and sex objects,' she said.

Ms Ho attributed the sour marital relationships to the significant age gap between the husbands and wives.

'It's a common phenomenon that middle-aged Hong Kong men marry someone from the mainland who's 10 or even 20 younger than they are,' she said. 'The wide age gap easily gives rise to miscommunication and family disputes.' She said middle-aged husbands of low education tended to hold to the traditional belief that their wives were no more than their personal belongings.

Ms Ho pointed out that many families, influenced by the prejudice of the community, discriminated against mainland relatives settled here. The study also indicated that 75 per cent of mainland wives complained they were discriminated against by society.

The federation called on the Government to draw up a comprehensive service plan especially designed for mainland wives, including counselling and job-training programmes, to help them integrate into the community.