Addressing sexual harassment needs more than #metoo

By Liu Lulu Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/4 23:18:40

A wave of sexual harassment scandals fed the rise of the #MeToo campaign last year. Western media outlets reported that sex-related crimes are serious in China but the country "rarely" takes sexual assault allegations seriously. They added that the Chinese public seemed unmoved by the campaign until Luo Qianqian, a former student at Beihang University, publicly alleged her former tutor Chen Xiaowu harassed her 14 years ago, using the hashtag #MeToo.

It has to be pointed out that Women have seen a dramatically enhanced status in China. Well-educated females attach much more importance to their rights than before, showing zero tolerance to sexual assault and harassment. The revelations of sex-related crimes in China, in fact, reflect Chinese women's enhanced awareness of rights and their determination to fight sexual insults.

Universities are the places where sexual violence are often exposed in China. More than 30 percent of China's college students have been sexually assaulted or harassed, according to a survey commissioned by the China Family Planning Association. This is an appalling number, but it suggests that many Chinese college students dare to speak out about their awful experiences to protect their rights and prevent other students from falling prey to ill-intentioned lecturers.

The situation in China is different from other developing countries such as India, where the high rate of sexual harassment is an indirect result of the low social status of females.

China's growing number of #MeToo cases is a social problem that any country will inevitably encounter in the process of development. More efforts should be put into establishing and perfecting laws and regulations so as to deter potential sexual violence and properly handle it if it happens. Law enforcement departments should take more prompt and transparent actions to bring culprits to justice. In the meantime, universities can establish a regular mechanism whereby sexual harassment allegations can be responsibly investigated and sternly dealt with, providing maximum support for students and imposing tremendous restraints and deterrence on tutors. These are perhaps the most effective solutions.

Social movements can only play a limited role in reducing sexual harassment. With the country's development, Chinese residents have increased awareness of their rights and this correspondingly requires an improvement in the legal system and the management level of relevant authorities. Social campaigns are just one part of comprehensive china approach.

Some Western media outlets are using China's sexual assault cases to insinuate that the Chinese system is to blame for the issue, as if the problems their countries are struggling to address are all about legal loophole.

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