SHANGHAI: Telling sexist jokes, emailing porn to
colleagues or sexually-salacious texting are all set to be outlawed under a
draft bill currently under review by the city authorities.
Once approved by the Standing Committee of the Shanghai People's Congress,
the Shanghai Supplement to the Women's Protection Law will become the first law
in China's history to clearly define sexual harassment.
Ge, an official with the Shanghai Women's Association, said the group had
received few complaints about sexual harassment but the subject is a hot topic
in the media and stories of "groping" in public transport abound on the
"A major problem is that we just don't know how widespread sexual harassment
is because so few women speak out many women who suffer harassment are too
embarrassed to take the matter further," Ge explained.
Shanghai lawyer Si Weijiang told China Daily that despite their high profile,
there are currently very few cases brought for sexual harassment. The lack of a
clear definition of the offence and the difficulty in proving a case which often
boils down to one person's word against another's, have made pursuing such cases
difficult, Si said.
Last year, Shanghai Xuhui District People's Court heard the city's first ever
suit for sex harassment. A young woman sued her doctor for unnecessarily
touching her private parts during an examination. The first court ruling went
against the woman, but she has since appealed to the Shanghai No 1 Intermediate
People's Court to review the decision.
Commenting on the new law, Xu Yuzhou, lawyer for the woman who claims to have
been groped by her doctor, said there was still much work to be done since sex
harassment became an offence enshrined in law for the first time last year.
"The Shanghai Supplement helps give a much clearer definition of what the law
means by sexual harassment," he said.
Jiang Qin, a 33-year-old designer, said she fully supported the law, adding
that in the past she had received sexual text messages from men which she
considered to be harassment.
Ida Relsted, from Denmark, said it was good to have a law, which might make
men think twice before sending sexist or harassing messages.
"It's still not enough though and more needs to be done, both in terms of the
law and in educating people what is and isn't acceptable," she said.
According to Xu, evidence is the most important but problematic area of such
cases. "At the moment there is no law which specifies what kind of evidence is
admissible and how much evidence is needed.
"The draft also does not include definition about damages."
The revision stipulates that words, pictures and
electronic information insinuating sex or bodily contact that "injures" a woman
is sexual harassment. It does not, however, define the extent of the