China adopts new women’s protection law; revised for the first time in decades

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After receiving significant public input and undergoing a third rewrite, China’s highest legislature approved a bill on Sunday that will give women stronger protection against sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

The measure was passed at a time when campaigners were alarmed by the government’s increased emphasis on the importance of traditional women’s roles, as well as what some saw as setbacks for women’s rights and more restricted views on abortion.

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The new law may or may not take some of those more conservative viewpoints into account. Beyond its adoption, there were no immediate details about the law.

The law pertaining to women’s safety hasn’t been altered in nearly 30 years. On Thursday, a measure with the working title “Women’s Rights and Interests Protection Law” was delivered to the NPC’s Standing Committee. On its website, the NPC declared the legislation to have passed.

As per the NPC’s website, tens of thousands of people submitted ideas for changes they wished to see made to the legislation.

The act “strengthens the protection of the rights and interests of disadvantaged groups such as poor women, old women, and disabled women,” according to official news agency Xinhua on Thursday.

Employers will be held accountable, claims Xinhua, for any violations of women’s labour and social security rights and interests.

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As per Xinhua, local officials would also be given guidelines for rescuing trafficking and kidnapped women.

Images of a woman in shackles that were uploaded online at the beginning of this year outraged people and sparked a discussion on how to deal with human trafficking, especially in rural areas where the problem has long been recognised.

(With inputs from agencies)

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