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China Outlaws Sexual Harassment of Women


China's national legislature has outlawed sexual harassment and vowed to work towards equality between men and women.

Traditional views towards women continue to slow progress towards equal rights between the sexes in China.

China's national legislature Sunday passed a measure that will for the first time outlaw sexual harassment of women. China's state media report the legislation, which goes into effect December 1, will give women the right to "lodge complaints" but was vague on penalties.

The official Xinhua news agency reported a recent survey of 8,000 women showed that close to 80 percent said they had been sexually harassed. Meanwhile, Xinhua says there have only been 10 cases of sexual harassment that have gone to court since 2001.

Gu Xiulian is the head of the official All China Women's Federation. She says sexual discrimination is rampant in China and will take time to change.

"The traditional concept of valuing men while belittling women is still acting on people's minds," she said.

The national legislature Sunday also committed China's government to work towards greater equality between the sexes.

Women account for just a fifth of China's small business owners. Less than 19 percent of China's ruling Communist Party members are women, and even fewer are in the higher ranks of government.