Sink or Swim in Marriage Relationships: Indonesian Female Migrant Workers in Hong Kong

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Women who migrate overseas to work as domestic helpers have encountered many problems. Studies have shown that the most common problems are related to dubious sponsors and agencies, workloads, and improper payment. However, only a limited amount of information is available that describes the personal problems experienced by these women. Based upon field research conducted in Hong Kong and Indonesia, this paper aims to describe the marital lives of Indonesian migrant workers who reside in Hong Kong. This paper also examines divorce-related issues that affect these migrant workers' lives. Some women have successfully created healthy family lives. Yet, others have hidden themselves to avoid harassment by their employers and their families in Indonesia because these women bore out�of�wedlock mixed-race children. This paper suggests that economic, political, and social contexts play important roles in the lives of these cosmopolitan subjects. In particular, these contexts affect decisions they make related to marriage and divorce. A significant number of women who are emotionally unprepared for the culture shock caused by their new environments attempt to find comfort by engaging in romantic relationships with foreign men in their host countries. The effects of disorientation and alienation often cause negative impacts. These women must negotiate their identities and develop a sense of belonging to create paths to healthy marital lives. This paper also examines female migrant workers' agency. It demonstrates that their agency is visible in the ways they negotiate and adjust to problems they experience in Hong Kong, the receiving country. Because these women face a significant number of problems, it is not suprising that they exercise a variety of different types of agencies to cope with their situations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationDynamics of Marriage Migration in Asia
    Editors Kayoko Ishii
    Place of PublicationJapan
    PublisherTokyo University of Foreign Studies
    ISBN (Print)978-4-86337-145-3
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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