China is set to modify its three-decade-old law to protect women’s rights both at the workplace and at home.
Sexual harassment and domestic violence cases have been rising in China. There were growing instances of #MeToo movement.
The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), which is the highest legislative body of China, has started process of amending the ‘Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Women’.
The updated law will provide a specific definition for “discrimination against women” for the first time.
There will be specific description on sexual harassment in the workplace such as inappropriate behaviour, sexually explicit images or offering benefits in exchange for sexual favours.
In addition to workplace, the draft bill seeks to protect a woman’s rights within the traditional family structure, and also allows women to seek compensation after divorce.
Women’s right: Workplace
In job openings, employers are restricted from mentioning gender preferences. They are forbidden from asking female applicants about their marital and pregnancy status.
In case a woman employee chooses to get married or have a baby, the employer will not be allowed to fire the employee.
Women’s right: Home
The duties of husband and wife within family structure are defined. Women can ask for compensation if they think they shoulder more responsibility at home.
Harassing a woman under the pretext of being in a relationship, or after a relationship ends will not be allowed.
Mentally manipulative practices such as ‘female morality classes’, will henceforth be banned under the new laws.
Reasons for the laws
There has been criticism about China’s attempt to suppress sexual harassment cases and harass #MeToo movement initiators.
There are concerns about growing number of domestic violence and sexual harassment cases in the country in recent times.
Gender based discrimination is rampant in China. Many women have suffered due to their marital status.