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CHINA: Nation Amends Law to Ban Sexual Harassment

China View
June 26th, 2005


China on Sunday started to try banning sexual harassment through legislation, after surveys found that Chinese professional women were widely suffering sexual harassment.

The draft amendment to China's Law on Women's Right Protection, with provisions to ban sexual harassment, was submitted to the nation's top legislature, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), on Sunday for first deliberation.

According to the draft amendment, no one shall be allowed to subject women to sexual harassment and all work units shall take measures against sexual harassment in working places.

"The provisions, which were newly added in the Law on Women's Right Protection to save women from sexual harassment, filled the legal gap in women's rights protection. It was for the first time for China to forbid sexual harassment through legislation," said Wu Changzhen, professor with the China University of Political Science and Law, who was also the head of the draft team of the amendment of the Law on Women's Right Protection.

A newly-completed national sample survey, which was jointly launched by Sina.com and the official Fortnightly Chat Magazine, showed that amid the more than 8,000 respondents, 22 percent of male respondents suffered sexual harassment, while 79 percent of female respondents suffered sexual harassment.

Another survey, organized by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, showed that nearly 40 percent of professional women, whoworked for private enterprises or foreign companies, suffered sexual harassment, while the figure in the state-owned enterpriseswas merely 18 percent.

A local survey, conducted by the northeastern China's Liaoning Province, showed that more than 70 percent of women working in service industries suffered sexual harassment of different degrees.

Prof. Wu Changzhen said although sexual harassment was not as severe as rape, it could bring physical injury and emotional pressure. In the serious situation, sexual harassment sufferers will lose love-making ability and become world-weary.

However, Chinese for long regarded sexual harassment as an ethics issue. Few citizens appealed to law after suffering sexual harassment. From 2001 to now, Chinese courts only received 10 cases concerning sexual harassment and only one of them won the lawsuit.

Jiang Yongping, research fellow with the All-China Women's Federation, spoke highly of the provision, which reads as "all work units shall take measures against sexual harassment in working places". She said work units have responsibility of creating a safe working environment for women.

Law experts also pointed out that to root out sexual harassmentfrom the society takes time, because the evidence collection for sexual harassment is difficult and Chinese women always felt shamed to speak out privacy.



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