A Snapshot of Marriage in Hong Kong

Taking a look at relationship patterns around the world, it’s clear that “monogamy” exists in name only.

From Kinsey.org: “The only form of marriage now legal in Hong Kong is the Western Christian form of monogamous marriage. The old Chinese marital system that allowed a man to take an unlimited number of wives has been illegal since 1971…There are signs that the monogamous marital system is not meeting the needs of those living in the Hong Kong culture.”

From 1989 to 1997 divorce cases doubled from 5,507 to 10,492 cases, while marriages dropped from 43,952 to 37,593.

Out of 2 million married men in Hong Kong, about 300,000 husbands had mistresses in China. If wives and casual sex outside of marriage are included, then 1/3rd of Hong Kong’s married couples are involved in extramarital relationships (as of 1999).

The Family Services Dept reports that 26 percent of their caseload deals with “affairs” (1988-1990), and a Catholic advisory board puts the number at 38 percent in 1993. Forty percent of affairs involved a stable partner.

In China, officials, businessmen and traders were allowed concubines and multiple wives (one in “every port”). This remained legal under British rule through 1997. Hong Kong men continue the practice in the modern era. By 1999, there were an estimated 520,000 extramarital children born to Hong Kong husbands.

Note that homosexuality, due to British law, was illegal until 1967, when the law was overturned in England, but only for males 21 and older.

Source and figures: The Kinsey Institute/CCIES/HK.

Yet another reason to personalize the rules for your relationship to make it more sustainable:

Liam Scheff is author of Official Stories, because official stories exist to protect officials. He is working on his new book about oil decline, remaking our tribes, and the trouble with monogamy.


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