Sexual Violence in History: A Bibliography

compiled by Stefan Blaschke


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First published: March 1, 2024 - Last updated: March 1, 2024


Speaker: Carol Tsang

Title: Whose Body Is It?

Subtitle: The Politics of Abortion in Late Colonial Hong Kong

Conference: Annual Conference of the Association for Asian Studies (March 1: Virtual, March 14-17, 2024: In-Person) - Online Program

Session: Circle of Life: Managing Bodies in Twentieth Century Hong Kong (Chair: Carol Tsang)

Place: Virtual

Date: March 1, 2024

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century | Asian History: Chinese History | Types: Rape; Victims: Physical Consequences / Abortion


Link: -


Speaker: Carol Tsang, Department of History, University of Hong Kong -

Abstract: »In 1976 abortion was legalized in Hong Kong, allowing a woman to abort if two doctors agreed that continuing the pregnancy could harm her. This paper shows how, when abortion became legal, women of different social strata faced more scrutiny and pressure in accessing it. The new law turned women’s bodies into a site where the government, physicians, missionaries and feminists struggled to control women’s reproductive rights. Apart from debating the morality of abortion, these stakeholders held contrasting opinions on the “best” technologies to abort, whether through dilation and curettage, vacuum aspiration, Chinese herbs, or acupuncture. Rates of “backstreet” abortion skyrocketed despite the availability of surgical abortion in public hospitals at a low price. While the well-to-do flew to Japan and Singapore to abort, teenage girls and Filipino domestic helpers sought help from “backstreet” abortionists in Hong Kong and across the China border, who offered quicker and safer services than perceived. Accessing “backstreet” abortions was a way for teenagers, working class women and women of color to overtly reject official surveillance of form filling, questioning and interviews before receiving a much needed operation. On a conceptual level, the paper explores how the abortion debate in late colonial Hong Kong responded to larger politics of teen pregnancy, rape, sex education, minority rights, and China’s one child policy (1979-2015). These politics have continued to create obstacles and stratify access to quality abortion care across age, class, and ethnicity in Hong Kong till today.« (Source: Online Program)

Wikipedia: History of Asia: History of China / British Hong Kong | Pregnancy: Abortion / Abortion in China | Sex and the law: Rape / Rape in China