China / Society

New rule to prevent sexual harassment

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-05-09 20:51

BEIJING - An online post by a female employee of Xiamen Airlines detailing an incident of sexual harassment has aroused concerns for more protection for women in the workplace.

Although the airline said the woman's claims have not been verified, her post has sparked attention amid increasing reports of workplace harassment.

"In recent years, cases concerning women being sexually harassed at work have been frequently disclosed. Sexual harassment directed toward women usually comes from their superiors, creating enormous fear and anxiety," said Lan Qing, deputy chief of the All-China Women's Federation's department for women's rights and interests.

Most women who are sexually harassed are reluctant to report the incident or take legal measures to protect themselves, Lan said.

"Some women cannot bear sexual harassment from colleagues or superiors and have to quit their jobs, while others continue to face discrimination and harassment even after complaining to their company. Still others remain silent for fear of revenge," Lan said.

The government has made some efforts to combat the problem, issuing a nationwide regulation to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace on Monday. The regulation is designed to fill in a gap left by a previous piece of legislation, the Law on Women's Rights Protection.

Although the Law on Women's Rights Protection, which went into effect on December 1, 2005, bans sexual harassment against women, enforcement has been lax. Lan said it is difficult to gather evidence of sexual harassment.

In 2001, a woman surnamed Tong from northwest China's city of Xi'an, filed the country's first sexual harassment lawsuit, suing her employer over her boss's sexual advances.

However, after a two-month hearing, the lawsuit was thrown out due to a lack of sufficient evidence.

The new regulation, created by the State Council, states that employers will face fines or penalties if the regulation is violated. To ensure proper enforcement, local human resource and labor protection authorities, production safety authorities, trade unions and women's federations will jointly supervise employers' behavior.

Lan said employers should outline what constitutes sexual harassment and list preventive measures in their corporate regulations, set up complaint channels and clarify investigation procedures, as well as enhance the protection of victims and help them get legal and psychological assistance.

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