Single mothers from mainland plead their case to stay in city with children

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 October, 2010, 12:00am

A group of 15 mainland single mothers yesterday appealed to lawmakers to issue them with single-entry permits that would enable them to stay in the city and bring up their Hong Kong resident children.

The women submitted documents detailing their situation to the Legislative Council Secretariat and spoke with legislators about their plight.

Under existing immigration rules, the group would only be issued permits if they had Hong Kong husbands to sign relevant documents. But the women had all separated or divorced their husbands or their spouses had passed away or were missing.

Double-entry permits currently issued to them mean they have to make regular two-week trips back to the mainland in the course of a year to renew them, disrupting their children's lives who have to travel with them or are left alone in Hong Kong, they said.

A 35-year-old woman among the group, who did ;not want to reveal her name, married a Hong Kong man in 2004 and divorced him last year.

Before they separated, she gave birth to a now five-year-old son in Hong Kong and nine-year-old son in the mainland. The younger son has a Hong Kong identity card, but she and the elder son do not.

'It's hard for a woman to bring up two children. And it's harder with one in Hong Kong and another in the mainland,' she told lawmakers.

She said she had tried taking both sons back to the mainland, but kindergarten fees there for the younger son, a Hong Kong resident, were much higher than those for mainland residents - more than HK$4,000 a year. She said she then had had no option but to bring both sons back to Hong Kong. However, the elder son cannot study here because he does not have a single-entry permit. The three survived on a monthly payment of HK$3,400 in comprehensive social security assistance.

She said she had buckled under the stress and had been admitted to hospital in April because of anxiety.

Over the past year, several mainland mothers whose Hong Kong husbands had died received special treatment from immigration authorities and were given permission to live in the city. But none who divorced were given such discretion, according to concern groups.

The government should establish an official channel through which such parents can obtain single-entry permits, the mothers demanded. In the meantime, discretionary treatment should be given, they said.

A Security Bureau spokeswoman said the issuing of single-entry permits is the job of mainland authorities and lies outside the Hong Kong government's jurisdiction.