Hong Kong birth tourism: 3 mainland mothers jailed — Hong Kong has sentenced three mainland Chinese mothers to 12 months in jail for overstaying in the city, as part of measures intended to discourage birth tourism, said authorities on Friday.
The three women entered Hong Kong separately as visitors in May, June and July of 2013, and were each arrested in December after rushing to hospitals for delivery without a booking, said a statement issued by the government.
“The Immigration Department is concerned about the situation of overstaying Mainland pregnant women seeking to give birth in Hong Kong,” read the statement, citing a spokesman for the immigration department.
“Great efforts are made to strengthen the examination of Mainland pregnant women at the control points,” added the spokesman.
Hong Kong, with a population of seven million people, has recently been struggling to cope with the tens of thousands of women from mainland China who arrive annually to give birth, thereby gaining rights of residency for the children, said a Channel News Asia report.
Last year the government banned pregnant women from the mainland from giving birth in the city if their husbands are not from Hong Kong. The measure was an attempt to ease pressure on local hospitals.
Each of the three women were charged with breach of condition of stay and they pleaded guilty at Sha Tin Magistrates’ Courts on Thursday and Friday, said the government.
“During the trials, all three defendants admitted that they had been pregnant before arrival in Hong Kong. They also confessed to having no prior booking for obstetric services,” the statement said, which was released late Friday.
The statement did not mention how long the women had initially been permitted to stay in Hong Kong.
The penalty for visitors who breach their conditions of stay can be a fine of up to HK$50,000 (US$6,500) and a maximum of two years in jail.
Nearly half of Hong Kong’s 88,000 births in 2010 were mothers from the mainland, which caused a shortage of beds in maternity wards, prompting a public outcry against birth tourism.