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香港“妹仔”制度
 3 January 2013, 07:32
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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girl also known as Mui tsai system which is a considered discriminatory and extremely inhumane against females was only repealed in the 1960s.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.

   最近一部TVB剧集引起了社会的关注,它向我们展示了上世纪20年代和30 年代香港废除蓄婢制度的一系列运动。

    香港曾经的“妹仔”(蓄婢)制度被认为是歧视女性以及极端不人道的奴隶制度,一直到1960年代才被废除。

    早在1879年当时的香港总督轩尼诗爵士就考虑要废除蓄婢制度,但是却得不到当时社会的支持。因为当时保守派对反蓄婢运动的强烈反对,补偿制度迟迟不能实施。

   渐渐地社会上出现了两种声音。开放派站在人道主义的立场上组成了“反对蓄婢会”;而那些顽固的保守派为了保护上层阶级的利益组成了“防范虐婢会”来防止人们对蓄婢的虐待。随着一系列运动的展开,反对蓄婢的运动得到了越来越多的支持,并且在香港和英国广泛展开。

   保守派认为蓄婢制度对香港有一些积极的作用,如果在没有配套的保障蓄婢制度的前提下,迅速的废除蓄婢制度只能为社会带来负作用。保守派的这些想法也不无道理,当1927年香港政府缩紧了蓄婢登记制度之后,杀死新生女婴的现象确实增多。因此政府在1923年2月15日颁布了《家庭女役则例》,禁止雇佣和转卖女佣。但是因为缺乏政府的支持,这部法令变成一纸空文,并没有真正保护这些女佣。蓄婢制度直到1960年代才被废止。


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