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Legal interpretation on sexual harassment needed
By Guan Xiaomeng (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2005-08-30 14:25

A top lawmaker, immediately after the legislators amended the Law on the Protection of Women's Rights outlawing sexual harassment on Monday, August 29, ruled out the possibility of enacting any further national law or regulation on the issue.

But Xin Chunying, deputy director of the Law Committee under the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said judicial interpretations to define what constitutes a sexual harassment are very much likely.

On Monday, the lawmakers approved the revisions to the law, clearly stating that sexual harassment and domestic violence against women are prohibited and subject to punishment, but stopping short to define sexual harassment.

At a press conference after the 17th session of the 10th NPC Standing Committee, Xin said no more special law or regulation relating to sexual harassment would be instituted, but judicial interpretations to further define sexual harassment are needed for the application of the law.

Xin admitted that it's not easy to make a distinguishable definition to sexual harassment. During the legislation process, lawmakers examined the laws of quite a number of countries, but none of the laws contains identical stipulations or definitions on the offence of sexual harassment. As a result, conviction of the sexual harassment is conditional on some specific regulations, including the judicial interpretations.

Judicial experiences in dealing with sexual harassment cases will further provide reference to the definition of the offence, Xin added. Also, the combination of legal liabilities of sexual harassment offence and the punishment for violating public security regulations will help make the law related to sexual harassment more applicable.

Cases of sexual harassment were reported in cities as Xi'an and Beijing, but few of the plaintiffs won the cases due to the lack of applicable laws.

"The inclusion of sexual harassment in the law is, without doubt, a positive signal and the victims (of sexual harassment) would have a legal tool to defend their rights and dignity," said Professor Ye Jingyi of Peking University.

Ye also called for legal interpretations to define sexual harassment so as to make the revised law on women's rights applicable.

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