The role of informal social networks in marital conflict, violence among newly arrived wives in Hong Kong
Abstract of thesis entitled:
The role of informal social networks in Marital Conflict, Violence among Newly Arrived Wives in Hong Kong
Submitted by WONG Yuen Ying
For the degree of Master of Philosophy at the University of Hong Kong in July 2005
Informal social networks play an important role in the help seeking strategies of Chinese people. Chinese people would usually seek help from their friends and relatives before approaching formal social service agencies. This study is concerned with the informal social networks of newly arrived abused wives in Hong Kong. As new comers, they have few friends and relatives in Hong Kong. As abused wives, it is shameful for them to disclose this issue to others. Their experiences will be explored in this study. In this study, 23 subjects are interviewed, 10 newly arrived wives with shelters experience, 10 newly arrived wives, and 3 social workers. Throughout these interviews, the help-seeking strategies and experience of these newcomers have been explored.
Most informants seek help from their friends in Hong Kong. This
phenomenon can be explained in two ways. One possible explanation is that most of their native family members are still living on the Mainland where is too far to provide help for newly arrived wives in Hong Kong. However, half of informants going to shelters are not willing to disclose their abused experience to their native families. This implies that this disclosure is deterred by other reasons. Another possible explanation pertains to the nature of the family relationships. Family relationships in Chinese society are long-term. It is hard for abused women to terminate their linkages with their native families regardless the adverse impact on their family ties by disclosing these issues. They may have to suffer from embarrassment and shame as result of the disclosure to their family members. On the contrary, the relationships among friends in Chinese society are looser than that among family members. Newly arrived wives can give up their friendships whenever no companionship is provided. This may explain why most newly arrived wives seek help from friends in Hong Kong.
Help from friends to these newly arrived wives are short-term and inconsistent since friends are not committed. This help is insufficient for newly arrived abused wives to start their new lives after leaving their abusers. Therefore,
these abused wives have to solve many challenges on their own.
Regarding the in-laws, help from them towards newly arrived women is conditional. The benefits of the husbands and the intact of the family are protected whenever help is provided. This may be explained by the nature of relationships between in-laws and husbands. Their relationships are connected by blood which cannot be broken easily. On the contrary, relationships between in-laws and newly arrived wives are connected by marriage. This will be terminated if the couple divorce. Therefore, in-laws will provide helps for the welfare of the husbands regardless the nature of conflicts.
This study, like other studies, has many limitations. Most informants are from lower socio-economic status and twenty informants are too few for generalizing. But there are some implications from this study: 1) to increase public awareness and knowledge about wife abuse, and 2) to conduct further research to explore the correlation between help-seeking behaviors and relationship nature. (500 Words)
School:The University of Hong Kong
School Location:China - Hong Kong SAR
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:abused wives social networks china hong kong women immigrants crimes against
Date of Publication:01/01/2005