A women’s rights organization wants to talk about sexual harassment, and it wants the public to join in.
The Beijing branch of the state-run All-Women’s China Federation is using audio-visual mediums at mass transit hubs in the capital to increase public awareness about sexual harassment. Currently, the organization is targeting the city’s subway stations — with an average of 13 million daily commuters — to educate the masses on what constitutes sexual harassment and how to prevent it from occurring.
“We are advocating for more women to be brave and to take action when they experience harassment,” the organization said in a statement announcing the campaign on Tuesday. “But it is also important to make the public aware that preventing such behaviors requires a collective effort.”
A photo collage shows anti-sexual harassment advocacy materials as seen in several subway stations in Beijing. From @中国妇女报 on Weibo
Sexual harassment has been a pervasive issue on the city’s public transportation network. The issue drew wide public attention in 2017 following an incident on a public bus where an offender slit a woman’s throat after she slapped him for groping her.
Meanwhile, incidents of sexual harassment have proven so rife on Beijing’s subway that the city’s police department deployed plain-clothes officers to monitor misconduct during commutes. Between January to August last year, the police’s “pervert hunter” squad detained 285 people for crimes involving molestation.
Some of the posters designed by the Beijing women’s federation take direct aim at shaming offenders — one shows a perpetrator being caught in public as passersby condemn his behavior — while a video provides an overview of various forms of sexual harassment.
“Don’t be the silent lamb, don’t be an indifferent witness,” reads one of the posters.
In 2017, a feminist group in the southern city of Guangzhou planned a similar anti-sexual harassment campaign, installing public service announcements on billboards in the city’s subways. However, the project never materialized due to resistance from the local authorities who control such advertising spaces.
In recent years, a growing number of women willing to speak out against sexual harassment as well as numerous high-profile reports of child abuse, has forced authorities to start taking action against such behaviors. While the country’s newly amended civil law includes provisions barring sexual harassment at schools and in the workplace, punishments for such conduct remain unclear, leading some local governments to introduce their own guidelines for preventive measures as well as sentences for offenders.
Editor: Bibek Bhandari.
(Header image: Police officers puts an anti-sexual harassment poster at a subway station in Beijing, June 2021. From @中国妇女报 on Weibo)