A recent report has suggested that London is the worst place to be a woman in the UK. A series of statistics indicate that women earn less, are less healthy, and the subject of more violence and abuse in Britain’s capital city. The city’s negative aspects are, sadly to little surprise, felt most acutely by women who are ethnic minorities. It is in many senses alarming that women are still so vulnerable in 21st century society and that the news is no great shock.
Predictions for London are that things are not going to get better anytime soon. But what for Hong Kong? My own research delivered an un-ignorable pattern of responses that affirmed the safety and freedom both genders felt when they negotiated the city. This is perhaps most notable because I looked exclusively at Muslims who are best understood here as ethnic minorities in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is often celebrated as a remarkably safe city where freedom of movement is a central feature of its liberty.
However 2012 has so far been a year where we have to question Hong Kong’s safety and freedom. In the last few weeks a series of murders and murder suicides have been reported in the news. From the grizzly discovery of a floating suitcase with a murdered girlfriend inside, to the butcher of a wife in a ‘love hotel’.
Compound these events with the ubiquitous issue of mainland mothers giving birth in Hong Kong, and their for right of wrong vilification in local media and political debate, and we have an important question arising. How safe and free is Hong Kong for women?
Visiting the the Hong Kong maritime museum earlier this week and seeing their special display on the Titanic provided another insight on this musing. It turns out their were 6 Hong Kong passengers on the Titanic all in 3rd class. Very few people in 3rd class managed to survive and get off the ship. But of the 6 men (4 firemen and 2 sailors) from Hong Kong 4 managed to survive. Little is known about their tenacity in getting off the ship and into the lifeboats.
Whatever the case may be, whilst the civilised ethic in times of trouble and emergency may be women and children first, out current social issues increasingly twist this belief. Women and children seem far more likely to perish, suffer, and struggle first.