Chinese authorities taking measures to prevent sexual harassment at universities

China’s Ministry of Education has announced plans to work with related departments to establish a long-term mechanism to prevent sexual harassment at universities and colleges, ThePaper.cn reported on Monday.

The move came after authorities made a decision to cancel the academic title of “Changjiang Scholar” for Professor Chen Xiaowu at Beihang University. Chen has been accused of sexually harassing seven of his former students.

Students and graduates from over 40 Chinese universities, including Tsinghua University and Peking University, have launched a campaign for the creation of a mechanism to prevent sexual harassment.

Zhang Yi, a graduate of Wuhan University, says they have proposed five ways for colleges and universities to better protect their students from potential sexual harassment, which include training for both teachers and students, conducting regular online surveys about sexual harassment, and creating an open channel to report sexual harassment.

Some universities have responded to the suggestions. Peking University said on Jan. 11 that it had noticed the proposals. The school said it issued regulations to discipline the behavior of its staff in 2016, which clearly state that abnormal student-teacher relationships, including sex harassment, would be investigated and punished.

Students from other universities also disclosed that their schools have paid attention to call for the creation of the mechanism soon after the campaign started.

A survey about sex harassment among students and graduates in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou in 2016 found that 69.3 percent of the 6,592 respondents had been sexually harassed at school.

Though sex harassment of women is prohibited by law in China, legal responsibilities and conviction and punishment standards are not clearly defined, said a researcher with the National Institute of Education Sciences, who is calling for enhanced sexual harassment prevention and legislation.