University action against professor a milestone

By Jin Zegang Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/17 20:53:40

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The case in which a former Beihang doctoral student Luo Xixi accused her previous teacher, Professor Chen Xiaowu, of sexually harassing students has drawn considerable media attention. The university said last week that it removed Chen from his teaching posts after an investigation found him guilty. The Ministry of Education revoked Chen's status as a Yangtze River Scholar and authorized the university to relieve him. The quick steps by the university and education authorities have been welcomed by the public.

Sexual harassment in colleges is not new. According to a non-profit independent medium NGOCN, 14 cases of harassment on campus were reported from 2014 to 2018. But many institutions often hide such cases.

Going by media reports, many people think that sexual harassment is not a clear legal concept. Sexual harassment involves using verbal or sexual innuendos. It usually leads to the victim's harassment.

Countries have different definitions of sexual harassment. Every country has its own tradition and customs to judge whether a type of behavior is appropriate. Sexual harassment is different from molestation, outraging the modesty or rape.

In China, sexual harassment is considered a tort under the Civil Law and mainly violates the victim's dignity and sexual freedom, causing psychological and mental damage.

But because the time and place of sexual harassment are usually concealed, it is hard to prove. This is also the reason why harassed victims lose harassment cases at colleges. 

The victim should be careful to preserve evidence for the future, just like Luo did with other victims' testimonies and recordings.

According to the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Women's Rights and Interests (2005 Amendment), sexual harassment against women is banned. It states: "Sexual harassment against women is banned. The victims shall be entitled to complain to the entity or the relevant organs."

Therefore, the relevant entities and organs have a basis to deal with complaints of sexual harassment. In previous college cases, although the teachers were suspended and probed, the action taken was not effective. Even though they were sacked after the harassment was proven, their academic titles and status were hardly affected.

The Ministry of Education made a good example of Chen by stripping him of his Yangtze River Scholar honor.

In the future, preventing the guilty from doing a specific job for a certain period can be considered a punishment. It can act as a deterrent for others.

Universities should pay more attention to teachers' moral character while evaluating their titles. After all, it is not only knowledge that matters.

If a harasser starts using force, tries to molest or even assault, the victim should call the police as soon as possible and collect evidence.

As long as the victim calls the police in time, legal punishment is expected. Otherwise it may bring more suffering to the victim.

Considering the current emphasis on the protection of rights of women and children, it is possible that the Beihang University incident becomes a milestone in the protection of women's rights and the development of society.

The author is a professor of law at Tongji University. The article first appeared in Southern Metropolis Daily.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

blog comments powered by Disqus