Law on protection of women’s rights revised

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The newly revised Law on the Protection of Women’s Rights and Interests (the new revision) was deliberated and passed by the 37th meeting of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress (SCNPC) on Oct 30, representing the biggest revision to the law since it was enacted in 1992. It will be implemented from next year.

Guo Linmao, director of the Social Law Office of the Legal Affairs Committee of SCNPC highlighted nine aspects with major improvements in the new version.

About the overall structure of the law:

In the section of legislative purpose, a description about promoting the all-round development of women and promoting core socialist values, has been added;

The need to uphold the leadership of the Communist Party of China in the protection of women’s rights and interests has been emphasized;

The new revision also mentions that:

  • gender equality assessment systems, statistical survey systems on women’s development status and protection of rights and interests, shall be established;
  • The state shall take necessary measures to promote equality between men and women, to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, and to prohibit exclusion and restriction of women’s enjoyment and exercise of various rights and interests in accordance with the law;
  • The state shall incorporate the basic national policy of equality between men and women into the national education system.

About women’s political rights:

  • The state shall take measures to support the development of women;
  • The people’s democracy shall be implemented in the whole political process;
  • The women’s federations shall democratically represent women in multi-party consultation, decision-making, management and supervision of state and social affairs;

About women’s personal and personality rights:

A new chapter on personal and personality rights and interests has been added to highlight its importance, including the following:

  • The human dignity of women shall not be violated;
  • Non-medically necessary fetal sex identification and sex-selective artificial termination of pregnancy are prohibited, and medical institutions shall respect the wishes of women when carrying out relevant medical activities;
  • On the basis of the original description of the prohibition of trafficking and kidnapping of women, it clarifies the responsibilities of the government and relevant departments, village committees, and residents’ committees, in discovering, reporting, rescuing, relocating, rescuing, and caring for abducted, trafficked and kidnapped women;
  • On the basis of the original description of prohibiting sexual harassment of women, it further requires improvements to the system for preventing and dealing with such acts;
  • Accommodation operators shall strengthen security measures for women, and report to the public security organs in a timely manner once they find any illegal or criminal acts that may infringe on women’s rights and interests;
  • The protection of women’s rights and interests in relationships such as marriage and dating shall be strengthened;
  • A women’s health service system and public facilities shall be established and improved to meet the needs of women.

About culture and education:

The new revision emphasizes the necessity of improving the system to ensure that female minors of school age receive and complete compulsory education, and stipulates that:

  • The government shall take measures to ensure that women enjoy equal rights and opportunities to receive secondary and higher education;
  • The state shall improve the system of lifelong learning and create conditions for women’s lifelong learning.

About women’s labor and social security rights and interests:

The legislation states that gender discrimination in employment shall be eliminated, the specific circumstances of such discrimination shall be clarified and be incorporated into the scope of labor security supervision, and stipulates that:

  • The labor (employment) contract or service agreement shall include the protection of the rights and interests of female employees;
  • Employers have an obligation to guarantee the maternity rights of female employees, and shall not restrict female employees from promotion in any form on the grounds of marriage, pregnancy, maternity leave, breastfeeding or other matters related to maternity;
  • The protection of the rights and interests of disadvantaged women such as poor women, elderly women and disabled women shall be strengthened.

About women’s property rights:

It focuses on rural areas and emphasizes that:

  • Women’s rights in rural collective economic organizations, such as the confirmation of membership, real estate registration, expropriation, and compensation for expropriation, shall be respected;
  • The above rights and interests shall not be violated in the villagers’ self-governance charter, village rules and regulations, or any decision on matters involving the interests of villagers;
  • The state shall protect the above rights and interests of women.

About marriage and family:

  • The state shall encourage premarital medical examinations. The marriage registration authority shall provide relevant counseling services;
  • Women shall have the right to request the recording of their names and other rights on the joint property of husband and wife;
  • The relevant system has been clarified.

About relief measures for women:

A new chapter on this issue has been added, including stipulations such as:

  • Women’s federations, and other governmental organizations responsible for women’s work, may urge relevant departments or institutions to investigate and punish acts infringing on women’s rights and interests in accordance with the law;
  • Where an employer infringes upon women’s labor and social security rights and interests, the human resources and social security departments, together with the trade unions and the women’s federations, may raise an inquiry with the employer;
  • When women’s rights and interests in rural collective economic organizations are violated, the township people’s government has the responsibility to guide and supervise;

Related public interest litigation, support for prosecution, and other legal procedures are also stipulated.

About the clarification of legal responsibilities:

The new revision clarifies legal responsibilities for violations of above-mentioned obligations.