Action urged against workers who abuse power

Government departments, enterprises and schools should take measures against employees who use their work positions or unbalanced relationships to sexually harass others, according to a newly released draft section of the civil code.

The draft was submitted to the ongoing bimonthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, for fourth review on Monday.

The draft's previous version did not give a clear picture of who should stop, prevent, investigate or receive reports of sexual harassment in the workplace or campus.

Some people were concerned the unclear rule might not be effective in fighting sexual harassment by powerful people or in unbalanced relationships, including bosses and their subordinates or teachers and students.

"We decided to accept the suggestion, clarifying that the departments include government agencies, companies and schools," said Shen Chunyao from the NPC Constitution and Law Committee.

Guo Jie, a judge from Fujian province, applauded the clarification, saying it will contribute to protecting the legitimate rights of victims of sexual harassment on campuses and in workplaces, and also urged the listed departments to shoulder their responsibilities when dealing with such incidents.

The draft is among six sections of the civil code. The five others include contracts, inheritance, and marriage and family.

The six draft sections and the general provisions, a total of 1,260 articles, form the civil code draft. They are expected to be submitted to the annual session of the NPC next year for deliberation, Shen said.

The general provisions, as the first step in formulating the country's civil code, were adopted in 2017. The six draft sections have gone through at least two readings at previous NPC Standing Committee sessions and wide consultations from authorities and the public.

The civil code draft will be sent to all national lawmakers to solicit opinions in January, Shen said, adding that views of local legislatures, relevant authorities and the public are also to be collected to improve the draft before it is submitted to the NPC.

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