Navigating Stigma and Discrimination : Experiences of Migrant Children with Special Needs and Their Families in Accessing Education and Healthcare in Hong Kong

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Original languageEnglish
Article number5929
Journal / PublicationInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number10
Online published13 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - May 2022



This paper explores the barriers to supporting South Asian (Pakistani, Nepalese and Indian) migrant children with special needs that their families encountered navigating Hong Kong’s special needs system and accessing education and healthcare services. It adopts concepts of stigma and disability rights. It draws on semi-structured interviews with fifteen South Asian children and young people with special needs (age 5–21; M = 10; F = 5) and their families, and seven profes-sional practitioners based on the qualitative descriptive method. Informants experienced intersecting stigmatization that included (1) institutional exclusion, (2) daily life microaggressions, and (3) misun-derstandings and a lack of awareness education. Simultaneously, some were empowered through (4) support and accommodation, and (5) spiritual support from religion. This paper reveals a paradox embodied by Hong Kong; it is an Asian multicultural city committed to embracing the vision of disability inclusion while failing to ensure necessary support to reduce the stigma experienced by culturally diverse children with a disability. It makes recommendations based on a socioecological framework and concludes that concerted efforts by relevant authorities and organizations should be made to reduce stigma by taking into consideration the intersecting stigmas, specific resources unique to migrant communities, disability rights and cultural sensitivity.

Research Area(s)

  • disability rights, education access, healthcare access, migrant children, special needs, stigma

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