Exploitation of women refugees
Women refugees are often the least well equipped to cope with their difficult circumstances and, as about 30% of the female population in the refugee camps is of childbearing age, pregnancy can add intolerably to their other anxieties. These women have little or no access to family planning services or contraception and there is a high percentage of unwanted pregnancies and births, thus increasing the number of refugee children. Violations of their security, one of the most serious problems affecting refugee women, have included rape, physical violence, sexual abuse or harassment and prostitution. Single women and women heads of families are more liable to such violence. Lack of sanitation and privacy is another aspect of the specific hardships refugee women have to endure. In cities, most refugee women need to supplement the family income, particularly women who are heads of households (that is, who earn 50% or over of the total earnings). In many cities, opportunities for these women are extremely limited.
So far, Hong Kong has resettled (in the USA) more than half of all the 'boat people' who have arrived since 1978, but the problem is made more difficult by the large number of Vietnamese babies born in the refugee camps. In the last two years a total of 2,575 births has been recorded - an average of 21 per week. Of the 22,109 refugees remaining in Hong Kong in 1984, 9,212 (or 38%) were children under the age of 15.