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Civil code defines, bans sexual harassment

By Cao Yin | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-06-01 09:22
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Lack of definition

According to Lyu, before the code was drawn up, there was no definition of sexual harassment in China, although it is mentioned in some laws and regulations, such as those on the protection of women's rights and interests.

"But, for a long time, there was no clear definition of what constituted sexual harassment and what behavior could be identified as sexual harassment, which caused difficulties in legal practice," he said.

"Everyone has their own understanding of sexual harassment. For some people unwanted bodily contact may be nothing, but for others it is deeply offensive. So, it's essential to have an official definition. Otherwise, judges may make different rulings in similar sexual harassment cases."

Xu held the same opinion. "A clear definition will make the crackdown on such misconduct more accurate and effective," he said.

"As a fundamental law, the civil code should play a leading role in regulating people's basic civil rights and duties, and give definite 'yes' or 'no' answers to some of the problems frequently seen in people's daily and working lives."

Although there is no official English-language version, the definition given may be paraphrased as: The civil code stipulates that sexual harassment means unwanted sexual behavior through words, written messages and images, or by abuse of social or work positions.

The code demands that government agencies, private businesses and schools take effective measures to prevent such misconduct and open channels to receive reports from people alleging harassment.

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