China plans to strengthen its women’s rights laws to provide stronger protection against gender discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace.
The proposed settlement comes amid the rise of a nascent #MeToo movement in China, which activists say has been hampered by the country’s strict regime of censorship and oppression against all signs of dissent.
The major overhaul bill was presented to China’s highest legislative body for deliberation on Monday. The amendment marks a significant development in the country’s legislation on women’s rights since its implementation almost three decades ago.
Under the proposal, any sexually suggestive comment, inappropriate bodily behavior, sexually explicit images, or suggestion of benefit in return for sex with a woman without her consent constitutes sexual harassment, according to Reuters.
The definition is the clearest since the law protecting women’s rights was introduced almost three decades ago. The previous provisions simply stated that sexual harassment against women was prohibited.
An employer would also violate proposed laws if he fired or reduced a woman’s pay to get married, get pregnant, take maternity leave, or breastfeed in the workplace. All schools and employers are also encouraged to implement systems to prevent sexual harassment.
The new regulations also extend to the household, giving women who are responsible for looking after the household the right to seek compensation from their husbands in the event of a divorce. The amendment comes after a Beijing court awarded a housewife a 50,000 yuan payment from her former husband as work compensation in February, in a case that sparked attention and debate at nationwide.
The standing committee of the National People’s Congress is expected to discuss amendments to the law on the protection of the rights and interests of women at the earliest Friday. The implementation schedule remains unclear.
The proposal comes amid a flurry of international attention to gender and power inequalities in China, after tennis star Peng Shuai made apparent sexual assault allegations against a former vice premier in early November .
The Women’s Tennis Association continued to voice concerns over Peng’s well-being after the player on Sunday denied accusing anyone of sexual assault in what appeared to be an informal interview with Singaporean media.
Peng previously posted a social media post describing a non-consensual sexual encounter with former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli, which was deleted by censors within 30 minutes. Peng disappeared from public life for three weeks after the publication, raising concerns within the international sports community for his well-being.
The WTA has announced that it will suspend all tournaments in China after several unsuccessful attempts to reach the player directly.
Chinese patriarchal society is reflected in its ruling and business elite, which is dominated by men.
The country’s fledgling #MeToo movement suffered a major setback in September, when 28-year-old Zhou Xiaoxuan lost a high-profile sexual harassment lawsuit she filed against a well-known broadcast host with strong ties. policies. Zhou is widely regarded as the face of the country’s #MeToo awakening.
Earlier this month, a former Alibaba employee accused the company of firing her after making allegations of sexual harassment against a coworker.