Smoothing the path for cross-border brides

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2005, 12:00am

A forum to bring mainlanders' hopes of marrying Hong Kong men closer to reality is being planned by the Women's Commission.

However, a social worker said yesterday the plan was short-sighted as the would-be husbands needed counselling too.

'Many mainland women find themselves unprepared when they go to live with old, unemployed men in districts like Tin Shui Wai and Wong Tai Sin,' said Peggy Lam Pei Yu-dja, of the commission.

Commission chairwoman Sophie Leung Lau Yau-fun said social services groups on the mainland had been running programmes to familiarise women there with life across the border. But the programmes had only reached about 30 per cent of the target group.

The commission said it would arrange the forum with the All-China Women's Federation in Shenzhen by the year-end.

The target participants will be women from Guangzhou and Fujian , and representatives of services groups.

The technical details have still to be worked out.

Studies have shown that about 150 mainland women come to Hong Kong each year to join their husbands.

But Sze Lai-shan - of the Society for Community Organisation, which serves a large number of new immigrant women and children - said: 'Why don't they provide counselling for the men in Hong Kong instead?

'Does the commission think that all social problems will be solved automatically by warning and stopping mainland women from marrying Hong Kong [men]?'

Ms Sze said the commission should focus its resources on tackling fundamental problems such as discrimination against mainlanders, labour exploitation, child care and family violence.