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Call for specific law on sexual harassment

By Yao Yuxin | China Daily | Updated: 2018-01-16 07:58
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Start protection mechanism with targeted pilot projects

Zhou Yingjiang, head of School of Law at China Women's University

An increasing number of sexual harassment cases are being exposed because of the improved security apparatus and rising public awareness. But sexual harassment victims on campuses still don't have a dedicated department where they can file complaints against the perpetrators and get justice.

To begin with, it is hard for students to collect foolproof evidence to nail the perpetrators, as sexual harassment (even some sex crimes) often don't leave any visible physical injuries, and as recidivists, most professors are highly sophisticated in their offensive behaviors.

In China, college professors usually hold absolute power over their students, which instills great fear among many of the victims and forces them to unconditionally follow their professors' orders. Infuriating a professor could possibly ruin a student's academic career.

After Luo's online post, a petition was signed by several universities seeking a specific law on sexual harassment and sex crimes. However, the authorities haven't attached much importance to sexual harassment or realized the magnitude of the problem yet, possibly because most of the decision-makers are men.

Moreover, colleges should also act responsibly and stop covering the truth to save the reputation of professors if they want to protect students from physical and mental harm. Steps to protect students should be taken sooner rather than later by, for example, launching an investigation after a student complains about sexual harassment. And pilot projects on how to protect students from sexual abuse and how to deliver justice to the victims can be implemented in some universities before a specific law is enacted.

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