Opinion / From the Press

Sexual harassment is a legal issue

By Li Yang ( Updated: 2014-10-13 17:01

College teachers’ sexual harassment of female students is not only an issue of the morality, but a legal one well. Authorities needs to look into the matter, and lawmakers should revise relevant laws to criminalize such indecent behavior, says an article in the Beijing Youth Daily. Excerpt:

A teacher at the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute is suspected of sexually harassing two young female students in a restaurant. After the incident was exposed online, the teacher apologized and said this is a moral issue. The school also acted quickly to condemn the teacher, suspending him from teaching and his research work, and reducing his pension level after retirement.

This is far from a fair end to the issue. The school should support the two female students to defend their legal interests in court. Instances of sexual harassment perpetrated by teachers should be treated as criminal cases. If the education authority only regards it as a moral issue, it is acting as an accomplice to the wrongdoers.

The teachers’ harassment of students is not only an insult to teaching, a career referred to as “engineer of the soul” in Chinese, but also hurts young people physically and mentally.

Many such incidents have been settled behind closed doors in recent years. The teachers responsible are sacked as the heaviest punishment that a school can administer. Instead of protecting the students, the schools’ benevolence and the absence of rule of law are actually encouraging the evil teachers.

The students should have the basic legal awareness to defend themselves in court. If the victims keep silent for whatever reasons, public security departments should come forward to launch public prosecution against the teachers. This will begin to solve the issue, and protect the students.

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