China’s first anti-sexual harassment guideline published to fight for gender equality
Published: Mar 25, 2021 09:14 PM


Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, has released a guideline aimed at preventing sexual harassment incidents in the city, in the first anti-sexual harassment proposal nationwide and a move seen as helping victims fight against sexual insults and promoting gender equality after a staggering rise in sexual harassment cases. 

"The guideline was published yesterday," a staff member at the Shenzhen Women's Federation told the Global Times on Thursday, "It is the first guideline ever in the country concerning sexual harassment prevention and control measures that covers all walks of life, different industries, and schools."

The guideline was released by the Shenzhen Women's Federation along with education authorities and seven other authorities.

According to the guideline, the move also seeks to carry out measures proposed by Chinese government to crack down on actions that violate the rights of women while eliminating prejudice, discrimination, and violence against women, in order to realize gender equality.

The guideline covers a series of points ranging from the definition of sexual harassment to what victims can do when exposed to such situations.

It introduces and defines the forms of sexual harassment, suggesting that any verbal judgement, jokes, sexually suggestive pictures or texts, and physical contact that is not welcomed by the other party or makes the other party uncomfortable can be classified as sexual harassment.

The guideline also introduces and regulates measures on reporting the relevant cases by setting up complaint departments in companies and schools for employees and students when they encounter sexual harassment.

When asked about whether this guideline would be promoted nationwide, the staffer told the Global Times that it was not included in their plan, however, "We welcome all cities that would like to from our borrow experience, since we're the first city in the country to release a guideline like this."

This guideline came after growing numbers of incidents of sexual harassment in workplaces and public places.

According to a report in 2019 on cases of sexual harassment and rape jointly published by Tsinghua University, the China Family Planning Association, and the "Love Matters" program, China has seen a constant increase in the number of sexual harassment cases for the past several years, with the number of sexual insults increasing 53% within just a year from 2014 to 2015.

What's more, the Global Times learned from survey by Chinese job hunting platform Zhilian Zhaopin earlier in March that 7.7 percent have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.

In 2018, Beihang University announced its decision to dismiss Chen Xiaowu, a university professor who had been accused of sexual misconduct by his former student Luo Qianqian.

"One of my friends based in Shanghai - she won't speak herself - had to quit her job after being harassed by her colleague when she was working there," an individual surnamed Zou told the Global Times on Thursday.

In addition to the staggering number of cases in society, the staffer also stressed that this guideline will be widely introduced among primary and middle schools by Shenzhen education authorities.

According to the guideline, the education authority should take actions to include sex education in its compulsory courses in primary and middle schools in response to the staggering rise of sexual harassment cases related to minors, a proposal that has sparked heated discussions among Chinese netizens.

The hashtag, "suggestions for clarifying sex education as part of curriculum system for middle school students", has once topped the trending list on Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo in March.

The popularity of social media among young people means content involving sexual violence and sexual abuse is available to children without supervision, noted Ma Xiuzhen, director of the Health Commission of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and deputy to the 13th National People's Congress (NPC), during this year's two sessions.

"For the next step, we will advocate comprehensively in all places including public spaces like subway stations, and places such as companies and schools," said the staff member to the Global Times.

"We will publish a series of  public service announcements in areas such as subway stations and other public spaces. What's more, we are going to hold competitions to collect anti-sexual harassment logos and poster designs," added the staff member.