Hong Kong: The SAR is famous for its Chinese Lunar New Year, Christmas and
New Year's Eve revelries, and local youngsters are no strangers to celebration.
Nor are they unacquainted with the consequences of the loosened inhibitions
that so often accompany a night on the town.
The experience of 15-year-old Carrie (not her real name) is representative of
the troubles facing many modern young Hongkongers. She traces her regrets back
to New Year's Eve 2006.
"I got drunk at a party and spent the night with a guy I'd just met. When a
month later I broke the news that I'd got pregnant, he walked out on me," said
Carrie, still quivering from the shock. "Two of my close friends took me to a
clinic in Shenzhen where they had had their abortions when they were 14."
Carrie's story would be familiar to many underage Hong Kong girls who have
suffered the painful consequences of unprotected sex. And with girls having
their first sexual experiences at ever-younger ages, more and more young people
risk suffering the effects of such encounters.
A survey carried out by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (FYG) in
November showed that half of the 105 respondents aged between 13 and 20 had had
sex before the age of 16. One of them said she had had her first sexual
encounter at the age of 10.
"Many of our clients become sexually active at the age of 14 or 15," said FYG
youth work officer Chan Lai-shan. "Some of them run away from home and stay with
a boyfriend, though most stay with friends and go home later. Many even change
boyfriends one after the other."
FYG unit-in-charge Luk Wai-kwok said the problem appeared to stem from
unhappy relationships at home and at school since most of the girls wanted love
and comfort from their boyfriends rather than casual sex.
"They associate sex with love and seek refuge in their partners, though we
urge them to think about the depth of their relationships with their
boyfriends," Luk said. "Our aim is to raise their awareness and teach them how
to protect themselves in a sexual relationship."
Chu Fung, the project manager of Caritas Youth & Community Service's Play
Safe Healthy Life Project, said young people should receive more education on
birth control, sexually transmitted diseases and related subjects.
"Many underage girls are unable to have safe sex and go for illegal abortions
afterwards. But even then they fail to learn a lesson and get pregnant again,"
Chu said. "Most have no clue where to get their girlfriends to undergo health a
check-up and let their ailments go untreated."
Both FYG and the Play Safe Healthy Life Project arrange for doctors to
conduct check-ups and surgery and provide pregnancy-prevention and post-abortion
However, Chu called for a better official response, saying Hong Kong should
offer more sexual health services for teenagers.
"It's not possible for an underage girl to go to a government clinic or the
Family Planning Association because she will obviously be worried about the
consequences," Chu says. "The problem remains mostly buried because it's not
addressed explicitly by public institutions."
Christina Cheung, the senior counsellor for the Family Planning Association
(FPA), said her organization had set up youth healthcare centers that offer
comprehensive counselling and medical services to unmarried people younger than
"We handle cases of young girls seeking help with anything from contraception
and pregnancy tests to counselling. Last year we handled 50 abortion cases of
girls aged 16 and below," Cheung said.
Few of the underage girls who had received an abortion after counselling had
reported new unwanted pregnancies in the past three years, according to FPA