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Shenzhen tackles gender inequality

Posted: 07/2/2012 7:00 am

Despite being the home of the phrase “Women can hold up half the sky,” gender inequality remains an issue in China. Xinran’s book “The Good Women of China” sheds light on some of the abuses women have experienced in the country’s recent history. In 2007, male gangsters were found to be killing women and selling their corpses as “ghost brides” to the grieving relatives of dead men, according to The Times (paywalled).

Shenzhen, a city that prides itself on entrepreneurship and independence is now trying to take the lead in levelling the playing field.

The Shenzhen Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress released regulations to boost gender equality on June 29, according to Xinhua. “The Shenzhen Special Economic Zone Gender Equality Regulations” are aimed at combating sexual harassment, domestic violence and gender discrimination.

According to a 2010 survey by the Shenzhen branch of the Women’s Federation, 33% of respondents had been victims of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is defined as intimidation, bullying or coercion of a sexual nature or the promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favours. Victims will be given channels through which to complain, and violators will be fined.

To tackle domestic violence, Shenzhen People’s Court will open a protection program for people who claim to be victims. This could lead to the suspect receiving a restraining order, or the victim being given police protection. The Women’s Federation will help victims receive medical care and psychological therapy.

Residents can also report cases of sexual discrimination in job recruiting to the police. Employers who are found guilty of sexual discrimination will be fined from 3,000 to 30,000 yuan.

The move received support from netizens. One Sina Weibo user said he hoped the rest of the country would follow Shenzhen’s example. Another said it was very important that children who come from families where there is domestic violence should receive support.

Having said all this, there is no guarantee that gender equality will continue to improve in the city. Just last weekend, local women were involved in a competition, which included a housework test, for the chance to marry an eligible bachelor. Half the sky indeed.

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