China Considers Law Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace

A new legislation will hold employer responsible for not combating sexual harassment at the workplace

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With the growing influence of the #MeToo movement and increasing number of workplace harassment cases, China is considering introducing measures to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace in a civil code draft submitted to the country's top legislature on August 27, reported the state news agency of Xinhua.


As per report, the new legislation will hold employer responsible for not combating sexual harassment in workplace. It adds that the employers can take reasonable measures to stop and deal with complaints about sexual harassment. The draft of civil code, which focuses on "intense problem of sexual harassment", is set to be completed by the end of 2020.

It would then go for the vote at the rubber-stamp legislature, that is the National People's Congress.

At present, the country doesn't have a legal definition of sexual harassment that can speak about what constitutes an offence. The proposed bill will ban sexual harassment and give rights to Chinese women to issue a complaint in the company's human resource department.

The Underreported Cases

The problem of sexual harassment in China is not just in the workplace; they have been reported in schools and university campuses as well. Among the over 50 million court verdicts from 2010 to 2017 available publicly, 34 were focused on sexual harassment, according to a June study by the Beijing Yuanzhong Gender Development Center.

A 2009 report by Hong Kong's City University says 80 per cent of Chinese women experience sexual harassment at some point in their working lives. Besides that, the report also shows that a significant number of sexual harassment cases in the workplace go unreported in the low-wage and poorly regulated industries such as retail and domestic work.

The country has also seen several high-profile individuals face allegations of sexual misconduct.

The cases include the former head of the government-run Buddhist association, who is under investigation for alleged sexual assaults against several nuns under his charge, and a prominent television host Zhu Jun, who has been charged by an intern.

How Employers can Prevent It

In 2013, Google introduced a training programme called "Unconscious Bias @ Work". The training programme helps employees spot the unconscious bias in workplace. The unconscious bias refers to the stereotypes, both negative and positive, that exists in our subconscious and affects our behaviour.

Microsoft too has made its internal unconscious bias training publicly available for organizations and individuals around the world that want to enhance their own efforts to support diversity and inclusion.

Such efforts can benefit the ecosystem in some way, and can contribute a lot in reducing the number of sexual harassment cases not just in China but across the world.