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Civil code draft backs the victims of sexual harassers

By CAO YIN | China Daily | Updated: 2018-08-28 07:58
[Photo by Liang Luwen/For China Daily]

People who sexually harass others through words or behavior, or by taking advantage of their positions, will face potential civil liabilities if they are sued by their victims, according to a draft of a new section of the civil code.

Companies should also take measures to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as provide reporting channels for victims and punishment for offenders, the draft added.

The draft is among six sections of the code that were submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislative body, for first reading on Monday.

The other five draft sections involve marriage, inheritance and contracts.
The package of six sections is the second step in formulating China's civil code, which is expected to be complete by 2020. The general provisions of the code were adopted in March 2017.

"The move against sexual harassment aims to protect people's right to life, body and health," said Shen Chunyao, chairman of the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the NPC Standing Committee.

The move against sexual harassment was also welcomed by legal experts "because it responds to public concerns, clarifying that we can protect and uphold civil rights if someone suffers such an offense," said Zhao Hui, a Beijing lawyer.

"Sexual harassment in unbalanced relationships, such as between teachers and students or bosses and subordinates, will be alleviated if the draft is passed," Zhao said.

Ruan Chuangsheng, a law professor at the Shanghai Administration Institute, also applauded the draft, saying its content aimed at sexual harassment is keeping pace with the times.

Both professionals, however, suggested that lawmakers should further explain in the draft what constitutes sexual harassment, "as the clearer the definition is, the more effective it will be for us in collection of evidence and fighting the offense", Ruan said.

In one of the other changes to the civil code, couples will be given a one-month "cooling-off period" if they intend to divorce.

"The move is designed to make couples think twice before divorcing to avoid some people breaking up blindly," said Shen from the NPC Standing Committee.

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