China’s #MeToo movement takes legal turn

The changes would also require employers to take measures to prevent, stop and handle complaints about sexual harassment.

VAGUE LAWS, CULTURE OF SILENCE

In recent months, women have made several allegations of sexual abuse against powerful men, including prominent university professors, the head of China’s Buddhist association, and leading figures in the media and at non-governmental organisations, which have reverberated across social media in China.

That intensified with the arrest and release by US police last month of Richard Liu, chief executive of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, on a rape allegation. Liu has not been charged and through a lawyer has denied any wrongdoing.

Up to now, vague laws, patchy implementation and a lack of understanding among lawyers, judges, police and the public have hampered attempts to handle cases through the courts, and deterred many victims from filing suits, according to activist groups.

The lack of a clear definition of sexual harassment, or an agreed upon standard for addressing complaints, entrenches a “culture of silence”, according to the Beijing Yuanzhong Gender Development Center, a non-profit.

The group said that while workplace sexual harassment is widespread in China, only 34 specific cases have been logged in the official court case database since 2010.

HOUSEHOLD NAME

Xianzi was a 21-year-old intern at the state broadcaster CCTV when she said she met Zhu, who is famous across China for hosting an annual spring festival extravaganza, one of China’s top-rated programs.

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