Telling sexist jokes, emailing porn to colleagues or sexually-salacious texting are all set to be
outlawed under a draft bill
currently under review by the city authorities.
Once approved by
the Standing Committee of the Shanghai People's Congress, the Shanghai
Supplement to the Women's Protection Law will become the first law in
China's history to clearly define sexual harassment.
Ge, an official with the Shanghai Women's Association, said the group
had received few complaints about sexual
harassment but the subject is a hot topic in the media and
stories of "groping" in public transport abound on the Internet.
"A major problem is that we just don't know how widespread sexual
harassment is because so few women speak out. Many women who suffer
harassment are too embarrassed to take the matter further," Ge explained.
Shanghai lawyer Si Weijiang told China Daily that despite their high
profile, there are currently very few cases brought for sexual harassment.
The lack of a clear definition of the offence and the difficulty in
proving a case which often boils down to one person's word against
another's, have made pursuing such cases difficult, Si said.
Commenting on the new law, Xu Yuzhou, lawyer for the woman who claims
to have been groped by her doctor, said there was still much work to be
done since sex harassment became an offence enshrined in law for the first
time last year.
"The Shanghai Supplement helps give a much clearer definition of what
the law means by sexual harassment," he said.
Jiang Qin, a 33-year-old designer, said she fully supported the law,
adding that in the past she had received sexual text messages from men
which she considered to be harassment.
Ida Relsted, from Denmark, said it was good to have a law, which might
make men think twice before sending sexist or harassing messages.
"It's still not enough though and more needs to be done, both in terms
of the law and in educating people what is and isn't acceptable," she
According to Xu, evidence is the most important but problematic area of
such cases. "At the moment there is no law which specifies what kind of
evidence is admissible and how much evidence is needed.
"The draft also does not include definition about damages."
The revision stipulates that words, pictures and electronic information
insinuating sex or bodily contact that "injures" a woman is sexual
harassment. It does not, however, define the extent of the "injury."