China's latest attempt to change gender discrimination against women

China’s latest legal attempt to fight gender discrimination against women


Amid the growing awareness of domestic violence, sexual harassment and suppression of #MeToo in China, the highest lawmaking body of the National People’s Congress are set to pass a new law to protect the rights of women and eliminate gender-based discrimination. 

Earlier this week, the country’s legislature received the draft revision to the ‘Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Women’ which aims to protect women against discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace.

The bill’s revision was submitted for its first reading to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) on Monday, almost three decades after it was first enacted.

State-run news agency Xinhua reported that under the new draft, employers will be prohibited from turning away female applicants due to their pregnancy or marital status. They will be prohibited from forcing a female job applicant to disclose her marital or pregnancy status. 

Women who are pregnant or on maternity leave will also have their salary and benefits protected. 

Local governments will be stipulating public venues create more women’s toilets as well as provide a number of public facilities such as maternity rooms and infant rooms.

The draft states that pestering or harassing women under the guise of being in a relationship, or after the end of a relationship will be prohibited.

The draft also attempts to clarify the duties of a husband and wife within the nucleus family structure.  

If a marriage does dissolve, wives will now have the right to ask the husband to make financial compensation if the wife can prove she had taken on most of the child-rearing, caring for the elderly or assisting the husband in his work. 

Publicly sharing a women’s private personal information will also now be banned. 

“Female morality classes”, where women undergo brainwashing methods to control them and make them feel inferior to their partners, will now also be banned under the revised law. 

Lessons learned during these classes included: “don’t fight back when beaten”, “don’t talk back when scolded” and “promiscuous women get gangrene”. 

Founder of the Inspection Squad for Workplace Gender Discrimination, Bai Zhi, said the organisation had come across many obvious examples of gender-based discrimination. 

The Squad monitors job advertisements in Chinese workplaces and in 2019, received 822 reports of gender-based discrimination in the workplace.

It also reported at least 150 of these to labour authorities, according to a document Bai sent to the South China Morning Post. 

Bai said even when the group reported cases of employers only hiring men, the companies did not consider the actions discriminatory.

“They don’t change their behaviour they say it’s because it is specialist work,” Bai told the Post.

Xinhua reported that the NPC is expecting to pass the revised draft bill soon. 

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