Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Disparity (a 'joe investigates' series)

It's a commonly held opinion that China and India are heading for a problematic social situation because of the increasing number of males relative to females.

Those wishing to investigate the possible results of this trend would do well to look at ethnic minority community in Hong Kong. Kowloon Park on any given Sunday is future China or India in microcosm.

A look at the Hong Kong government web site informed me that there are 340,000 non-Chinese living in Hong Kong. Over 50% of these are domestic helpers, mostly from the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Apart from the occasional driver, domestic helpers are always female.

The remainder of Hong Kong's ethnic minority community are mostly South Asians who are residents of Hong Kong (or their dependents). Among these residents, the gender ratio is fairly equal.

But there is another group who make a valiant yet futile attempt to address the numerical dominance of women among the Hong Kong ethnic minority community. I will call them 'the men of Chungking' - South Asians and Africans who are working illegally or seeking asylum in Hong Kong, all of whom have only a tourist visa. Those who work renew their visas by fortnightly trips to China and back. To avoid trouble they also have to make periodic trips back to their country, sometimes to take a fresh passport.

To be continued...

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