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Women's rights better guarded by revised law
By Zhao Huanxin (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-08-24 08:33

By Lawmakers yesterday discussed legislation to guarantee gender equality.

The draft amendment of the 1992 Law on Protection of Rights and Interests of Women makes protection of women's rights a State policy and outlaws sexual harassment.

The changes were submitted to the Standing Committee of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature, for further deliberation yesterday.

The committee is expected to vote on the revisions during its current week-long 17th meeting in Beijing.

The proposed amendment says equality between men and women is a "basic State policy," and the State will adopt due measures to improve the protection of women's rights and interests and eliminate sexual discrimination.

The move is a big step towards securing women's rights, according to Chen Mingxia, a researcher on law and marriage at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

By taking into account new social situations in China, the draft amendment seeks to safeguard women's rights and interests, including representation of women in government, as well as educational, work and personal rights.

According to the draft law, the State will adopt concrete measures to increase the number of female legislators.

Over the past 13 years, the ratio of women deputies to the NPC has stood stagnant at around 20 per cent, according to Li Yuan, an official with the NPC Standing Committee Legislative Affairs Commission.

Women will be entitled to lodge complaints of sexual harassment to agencies or to the units where they work, and offenders will be penalized.

Jiang Qiangui, vice-chairwoman of the NPC's Law Committee, yesterday said further studies were needed to define sexual harassment and employers' responsibility for preventing workplace sexual harassment.

Wang Xingjuan, founder of the Beijing Maple Women's Psychological Counselling Centre, said stipulations should also be made concerning sexual harassment toward men.

The NPC Standing Committee yesterday also began deliberating a draft amendment tackling public order offences. The draft suggests offenders under 18 years old should not face detention for his or her first public order offence.

The proposed amendment prescribes a detention of less than half a month for those who incite and orchestrate illegal assemblies, processions and demonstrations.

It also prescribes penalties for those hacking into computer systems, and creating and spreading malicious computer viruses.

The 17th meeting of the Standing Committee of the 10th NPC, which runs through Sunday, is set to discuss the draft law on notary services.

Also during the session, the State Council will submit a Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and a Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination in Respect to Employment and Occupation.

The meeting will also discuss reports on the enforcement of the law relating to lawyers and laws governing production safety, as well as the implementation of this year's national economy and social development plan.

The Treaty for Friendship, Cooperation and Good-Neighbourly Relations between China and Pakistan and the treaty on mutual legal assistance in civil and criminal matters between China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, will also be submitted to the session to deliberation.

(China Daily 08/24/2005 page2)

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