Gender Issues in the Spotlight

The second quarter of 2018 has brought renewed scrutiny of gender issues in China. Chinese women still face perilous conditions in society and the workplace, often falling victim to sexual harassment and discrimination of various kinds. The #MeToo campaign that swept Peking University (PKU) in April this year well exemplifies female vulnerability to sexual harassment on campus and in the workplace. This movement culminated in activists’ demand for the university to disclose information on a rape-suicide case that occurred two decades ago, when Gao Yan, a student at PKU, committed suicide after being sexually assaulted by Shen Yang, at that time a professor at that institution (he would keep the position until 2011). Having failed to intimidate the activists, PKU pledged to re-investigate the case and introduce regulations on anti-sexual misconduct. Sexual harassment aside, Chinese and international media have highlighted how women in China are discriminated against in job applications. Research conducted by Human Rights Watch has found that almost 20 percent of civil service positions released in early 2018 either required job applicants to be male or expressed a preference for male candidates, whereas only one job post indicated a preference for females. It was also found that private companies— including tech giants Alibaba and Tencent—had opened up special positions for ‘beautiful girls’, so-called ‘goddesses’, hired to lure more male applicants. NLiu

(Sources: Business Insider; Caixin; Human Rights Watch; The New York Times; Xinhua)

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