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Born Out of PlaceMigrant Mothers and the Politics of International Labor$
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Nicole Constable

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780520282018

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520282018.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

Sex and Babies

Sex and Babies

(p.121) 5 Sex and Babies
Born Out of Place

Nicole Constable

University of California Press

Why do domestic workers get pregnant and have babies? Given their (mostly) Muslim and Roman Catholic backgrounds, how do they approach sexual relations and options regarding contraception, abortion, adoption, or keeping the baby? Sex and babies are linked in complex and contradictory ways to ideas about good and bad women. Paradoxically, babies anchor women in a place and offer hope of family and security in a precarious world, an apt example of “cruel optimism.” As this chapter shows, for temporary migrant workers, asylum seekers, or refugees who have little hope of remaining in Hong Kong “for good,” who are far away from home and the surveillance of partners, spouses, parents, kin, community, and the state, Hong Kong is a liminal place—far removed from everyday norms—where social rules and expectations can be relaxed or put on hold. Many domestic workers avoid men and sex, because they can detract from the goal of earning money and sending it home; others embrace Hong Kong’s freedom, including the opportunity to meet men, have sexual relations, and sometimes form families.

Keywords:   contraception, abortion, adoption, prostitution, marriage, sexuality, family, morality, babies

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