HRW flags gender discrimination, harassment in China's civil service

gender equality

Human Rights Watch on Thursday denounced gender discrimination and sexual harassment in China's civil service and called on Beijing to put a stop to both.

HRW discovered that in a recently-released list of nearly 10,000 civil service jobs, 19 per cent of the positions specified a preference or requirement for male candidates, while none stated a preference or requirement for females, Efe news reported.

"This means that the Chinese government considers there to be many jobs that women cannot do or do as well as a man, but none only women can do," the NGO said in a statement.

"Chinese law prohibits gender-based discrimination but discrimination in jobs is widespread in the country," according to the statement.

"President Xi Jinping claims to uphold Chinese law but his administration won't even protect women civil servants from outrageous discrimination," said HRW China director Sophie Richardson while calling for an end to the practice.

The 2019 National Civil Service Positions List included positions in the government, the Chinese Communist Party and other government-controlled political parties for the next year.

This included some of the most competitive jobs in the country according to the HRW, as more than 1.4 million aspirants will compete for 14,500 vacancies with a relatively high salary, job security and health, retirement, housing and other benefits.

The job listings often mention "frequent overtime work", "heavy workload" and "frequent travel" as reasons for excluding women, the report said.

A position at the Tianjin Bureau of Post Service Management for "supervision and management of the post industry" stated the "need to carry out law enforcement and supervision work, heavy workload, suitable for men", HRW reported.

The non-profit said that the Ministry of Public Security advertised 33 positions, out of which 27 were specified as "men only", making it one of the worst violators among central government agencies.

The NGO also urged Chinese authorities to carry out "transparent and impartial" investigations into complaints of sexual harassment made by female civil servants and prosecute those found responsible.

Some female administrators shared their experiences of being harassed by their superiors on social media and other forums and sought justice.

"As China's growing #MeToo movement shows, Chinese women not only face unfair barriers to joining the civil service, but sexual harassment in those jobs," Richardson said.

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