A recent TVB series brought viewers’ attention to the strong of the movement to abolish the slave system in the 1920s and 1930s.
The slave girl also known as Mui tsai system which is a considered discriminatory and extremely inhumane against females was only repealed in the 1960s.
Early in 1879 when Sir John Pope Hennesy was the Hong Kong governor, the government already considered the slave girl system inhumane and wanted to abolish it. However the climate of the society at that time was not yet ready for such a change. An indemnification system could not operate in a coordinated way and an abolishment movement was opposed so strongly by the conservatives that it could not be carried out.
Gradually the people were divided into 2 groups. People who were more open-minded took a humane stance by opposing the slave girl system formed the Anti Mui Tsai Society. Those who were more hidebound and concerned with practicality wanted to protect the benefits of the upper class by minimizing slave girl abuse formed the Society for the Protection of Mui Tsai. Slowly the Anti Mui Tsai position had gained popular support and the idea of abolishing the slave girl system had spread around Hong Kong and Britain.
The conservatives felt that the slave-girl system had certain positive function and that there were not enough contingency measures to help the young girls. They felt that it the slave girl system was abolished in a hurry before the supporting policies were in place would not help to protect the girl but instead bring ill effects to society. There were valid reasons from these worries at that time. When the government tightened the rules of the relevant girl registry in 1927 the number of female babies killed actually rose. The Female Domestic Device Ordinations was passed by the Legislative Council on February 15 1923. It prohibited the employment or resale of servant girls. The law however exists in name only and did not really protect the servant girls. The practice only stopped in the 1960s.