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Civil code defines, bans sexual harassment

The move is unprecedented in China's legal history. Cao Yin reports.

By Cao Yin | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-06-01 09:22
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In addition to civil liability, sexual harassers will also be exposed and punished under the criminal law if their behavior constitutes a serious offense, such as sexual abuse, molestation or rape.

"Despite that, the challenges facing victims in terms of reporting attacks, filing cases, self-protection, winning lawsuits and obtaining compensation will still exist for a long time, especially in civil disputes. That's because they will have to prove to police and judges that they have been sexually harassed. Collecting such evidence has never been an easy task," Lyu said.

"For example, if a girl is unexpectedly kissed or touched by a teacher after being called into an empty office or classroom, it is extremely hard for her to prevent the sudden physical contact, let alone record it on a cellphone as evidence. Meanwhile, it's not possible for students to install cameras in private places," he added.

"When we encourage victims to call the police if they have been sexually harassed, we should do more to guide them to save related text messages and chat records on instant messaging tools, such as WeChat and QQ, as evidence.

"Evidence will be their strongest support if they want to file a case and win the subsequent proceedings."

Xu agreed with Lyu's view. "Sexual assault, abuse or rape may leave some physical record, including semen stains, scratch marks or injuries caused by struggling, which can be collected by investigators and used as evidence in a criminal case," he said.

"But in civil cases, victims must show the court how the misconduct happened. That will be difficult for those who lack experience."

As a result, the lawyers said more must be done to show women how to defend themselves against sexual attacks and also to ensure that known offenders are denied access to potential victims.

"A database of sexual abusers should be built and disseminated nationwide as quickly as possible, as a way of preventing people with a record of sexual offenses from entering schools or being employed in the education sector," Lyu said.

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