Butler Journal of Undergraduate Research


Even though Hong Kong remained under British control from 1842 to 1997, denizens were not modernized in a way comparable to that of the British. To the contrary, while governing Hong Kong, British colonizers allowed continued reference to ancient Chinese customs in the area. Such policy diminished women’s chances of receiving fair treatment in matters such as property management and divorce. Unlike in Hong Kong, women were legislated to be parallel to men in matrimonial and property inheritance petitions in China, Britain, and colonial Singapore. This study is based on two exemplary cases judged by authorities in colonial Hong Kong. Furthermore, the study explores how differently the judicial offices in Britain, the People’s Republic of China, and Singapore viewed these issues. Women in these regions were characterized as legal heirs of familial properties, though the attitudes toward women’s equal placement with their husbands when facing divorce were addressed in varied manners. Such research requires a correction in historical misconceptions and elevates gender studies on Chinese women to a more comprehensive status in chronological comparisons. Additionally, this research implicates that gender equality cannot be analyzed from only one perspective but in an interconnected manner, for a synthesis can allow us to see weak points in women’s status in colonial Hong Kong more deeply.