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Bertrand Meunier | Hong Kong’s “cage homes”

PRIVATE 48, p. 12-13 (12-15)

PRIVATE 48, p. 12-13 (12-15)

Bertrand Meunier, Hong Kong’s “cage homes”, from PRIVATE 48 – Economic inequalities, pp. 12-15

One of the bleak, shocking realities of life in Hong Kong, is the humiliating situation of men living in cages. Hong Kong’s “cage homes” are dormitories where you’ll find rows of bunk beds, each enclosed in wire netting, in which the tenants store their belongings. What the people living here have to endure on a daily basis is a total lack of privacy, a feeling of imprisonment and a complete lack of hygiene.

These inhabitants are mainly young migrant workers from mainland China, or people from Hong Kong who are mostly retired, with no income. It is estimated that 100 000 people live like this. Hong Kong’s “cage homes” – which started to appear in the 1950’s to temporarily house migrant workers – have never really closed down. Although the economic and social council of the United Nations is exerting pressure, the government of Hong Kong turns a blind eye to these dormitories, as long as there are no more than twelve people per room.

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