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Divorced and Hmong, seeking answers and lessening the burden of being female

Mailee Yang had heard stories from other elder Hmong women about how hard it was to leave an unhappy marriage. She had recalled the whispers in her community about the certain “bad Hmong women” who were held at fault for their divorces regardless if it’s her fault.

After her own divorce, Mailee Yang remembered her mom reminding her, “It’s better to stay in a bad marriage than to be a divorced woman these days. ”

Hurt and confused, Mailee Yang set out to learn more from her community.

“I tried everything from Googling details about Hmong women and divorce and was unable to find anything in that topic, ” she stated.

Mailee decided to go out and do her own community research and ended up surveying hundreds of Hmong divorced women around the country regarding their encounters with divorce. Her intent was to gradually share her findings and find new ways to support divorced women who’ve been ostracized for failed marriages.

After many months, her research project came out of her participation in the Hmong Women’s Leadership Institute, a program own by the nonprofit Hnub Tshiab (pronounced NOO-chia), also known as Hmong Women Achieving Together. This group is designed to enhance the lives of Hmong in US women and tackle gender equity in the community.

Over six weeks span, she conducted hundreds of online surveys searching about encounters of Hmong divorcees. There were more than 230 Hmong women between the age of eighteen and 50 years of age, and spanning across nineteen states, which took part in the study.

She asked these ladies which factors affected how stressful the divorce was. Regarding 57% of participants said they were in violent associations, and regarding fifty percent said they will don’t have motivating in-laws support, relatives, or even family member moral supports. Plus 71 percent stated that getting the children made separation and divorce more stressful, Yang said.

Mailee had now believed the pressure regarding how women feel while going through the traditional Hmong divorce, originates from not properly dealing with the cultural norms who have negatively afflicted women.