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China outlaws sexual harassment


August 28, 2005

CHINA has outlawed sexual harassment and made domestic violence a crime in a bid to boost legal protection for women, state media says.

The amendments were adopted by the Standing Committee of the 10th National People's Congress on its last day of meetings. The Xinhua news agency said the law will now state "that gender equality is part of national policy in China".

"Prohibition of sexual harassment was for the first time included in China's law," it said.

"According to the amended law on the protection of women's rights, it is prohibited to subject women to sexual harassment and victims have the right to file complaints to related authorities."

Legislation against domestic violence and the coercion of women into sex-related work was also put on the statute books.

Sexual harassment is a growing problem in China. In the work place, offenders typically abuse their authority, combining threats of discharge or defamation with inducements of promotions and pay rises to force female subordinates to submit to their advances.

For years, Chinese women suffered in silence because there were no explicit laws targeting and defining the issue.