The Rise of "Exotic Flowers": A Brief History of Formal Education for Chinese Women in Penang

By Kuah Li Feng

March 2022 FEATURE
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The matron of the Methodist Girls’ School sits surrounded by students in Beijing, China in 1876. Note that the younger woman and girls are wearing normal-sized shoes, the result of Chinese intellectuals having successfully advocated for the abolishment of the centuries-old foot-binding practice. Photo by:
THE PREVIOUS FEW articles on Chinese prostitutes in Penang Monthly cast light on the plight of early Chinese female migrants to Malaya and Singapore. These women were mostly illiterate and had very few options for eking out a decent living. Hence, their entry into prostitution, which was then a legal trade. The growing alarm of the Colonial Government saw its permanent ban in the 1930s, which left many of these women without income and employment.Many within the Chinese community sympathised...

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Kuah Li Feng

is an ethnographer and cultural practitioner. She founded Studio Good Think in 2011, one of the first private heritage service consultancies in Penang focusing on cultural research and interpretation.