Story of the Month - September 2016

Story of the Month - September 2016 

每月故事 - 二零一六年九月

In 2015, there were nearly 11,000 asylum seekers in Hong Kong with outstanding claims. While Hong Kong does not resettle refugees locally, the city has the obligation to screen and process asylum and torture claims. Yet asylum seekers and refugees are prohibited from working, studying, and volunteering while their application is being processed - sometimes for longer than 10 years. Meanwhile they live on a meager support of $1,500 rental allowance, $1,200 food coupons, and minimal utilities support each month. This has created conditions of enforced destitution for asylum-seekers and refugees - even though they have many skills and talents to offer. Mainstream media tends to portray them as criminals, and academic studies often depict them as oppressed persons doing everything they can just to survive. One of the myths is that asylum-seekers are getting married with locals for the sole purpose of getting a Hong Kong Identity Card. Centre member and anthropologist Prof. Sealing Cheng's research about the intimate life of African asylum seekers and refugees in Hong Kong shows a different side of the story.

在2015年,香港有約11,000名尚待處理的尋求政治庇護申請。香港雖非難民接收國,卻有義務審查及處理難民和酷刑聲請。當申請仍在處理時,尋求政治庇護者和難民不可工作、讀書、或當義工,處理時間可長達10年以上。期間,他們每月可獲發微薄的租金津貼($1500),食物換領券($1200),和少量日用品。故此,政治庇護者和難民被逼過著赤貧的生活,即便他們擁有不少可作貢獻的才能。主流傳媒傾向把他們描述成罪犯,而學術研究則多視他們為僅求糊口的被壓逼者。傳聞指,尋求政治庇護者與本地人結婚,不過是為了獲取香港身份證。本中心成員兼人類學家鄭詩靈教授的研究,探討從非洲來港的尋求政治庇護者和難民的私密生活,從而道出了故事的另一面。

 

Prof. Cheng shared the experience of David (pseudonym), an asylum seeker from West Africa and a decent looking and trendily-dressed young man in his twenties. David was pursued by an older wealthy local woman, who treated him with expensive meals and even invited him to come to her house afterward. Most people may expect that an asylum seeker in his situation would be eager to develop a romantic relationship with any local woman to obtain Hong Kong residence. Yet David said he was "afraid" when he was with her, indicating his lack of interest in this woman who could offer him not just HKID but also material comforts. His true love, as Prof. Cheng later found out, was a younger woman, who had a more humble lifestyle.

鄭教授分享了一位從西非來港尋求政治庇護者的經歷。David(化名)是一位年約二十多歲的年青男子,外表英俊,打扮入時。他曾受到一位年紀較長又富有的本地女士的追求。那位女士請他到高級餐廳,及後更邀請他到她家中。多數人或會以為,尋求政治庇護者定會把握機會與本地女子發展關係,以獲得香港居留權。然而,David卻說,每次與她一起,都有種莫名的「恐懼」,可見他對這位能給他身份證和安逸生活的女士並無興趣。鄭教授後來才知道,他真正喜歡的對象,是一位較年青、生活較卑微的女子。

 

Through stories like David's, Prof. Cheng shows that asylum seekers, just like anyone of us, have love and desire. It is important for us to recognize the humanity of asylum-seekers and refugees, and formulate policies that facilitate the exercise of their basic human rights, as well as to address problems of discrimination against them because of their race and immigration status.

通過像David般的故事,鄭教授展示出尋求政治庇護者跟其他人一樣,是有情有欲的個體。重要的是,大眾應明白尋求政治庇護者和難民的人性,並制定保障他們基本人權的政策,以免他們因種族和移民身份受歧視。

 

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