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Employers could pay for harassment
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Employers will have to pay compensation to the victims of sexual harassment if they are found to have been at fault under a new legislation in southwest China's Sichuan Province.

The Implementation Measures of the Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Women targets sexual harassment using words, letters, images, communication and body language.

Employers are obliged to adopt measures to prevent such situations from happening on their premises.

If employers are found to have permitted any assaults on a woman's body, spirit or reputation, they will assume related civil compensation liability.

More than half of the 11,669 women respondents to a survey conducted earlier this year by the People's Daily website said they had experienced sexual harassment at work.

In an online poll on sina.com yesterday, 50.74 percent of the 7,126 participants agreed that employers should compensate victims of harassment, compared to 39.7 percent who said they should not.

Experts lauded the new regulation, but were not optimistic about its practicality.

"It is a landmark move as no one has ever attempted to implement such a regulation before," said Li Ying, a professor at the Law School of Beijing University.

"It will empower women and make the work environment more conducive for their growth."

However, Qiu Baochang, dean of the Beijing-based Huijia Law Firm, said it would be tough to enforce, "especially in a country where co-workers go to bars and KTV together all the time".

"It is so hard to assign fault because it is hard to figure out what really happens between male and female employees."

"Should an employer arrange separate rooms for male and female employees?" he said.

The Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Women took effect in 1992. It enumerates women's rights and interests in politics, culture and education, labor, property, marriage and family.

Local provinces can adopt their own measures for the law's implementation under its guidelines.

The latest revised details for implementation of Sichuan, a province with 42.5 million women, also highlights gender equality. It bars prejudice against women and protects their special interests.

(China Daily October 12, 2007)

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