The EOC Reports on Work Plans and Progress
Members of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) met on 18 December 2014 (Thursday) at the 108th EOC Meeting and discussed various matters related to the Commission’s business.
EOC Members were pleased to note that the Government and the legislature had accepted the EOC’s recommendation on extending the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO) to protect providers of goods, facilities or services from sexual harassment. The SDO (Amendment) Bill 2014, which became effective on 12 December 2014, makes sexual harassment by customers against providers of goods, facilities or services unlawful, even if the act takes place on board a Hong Kong registered ship or aircraft when travelling outside Hong Kong.
The enhanced legislation brings greater protection to workers in the service industries, especially those in frontline positions, whose frequent contact with customers make them more vulnerable to sexual harassment. To ensure protection for flight attendants and ship crew while they are at work, the enhanced Ordinance also applies to sexual harassment acts happened on board Hong Kong registered ships and aircraft, even when they are outside the HKSAR.
To ensure the smooth implementation of the amended Ordinance, the EOC has stepped up its public education and publicity efforts to enhance awareness and understanding of the amended legislation, such as strengthening online resources, updating existing pamphlets, developing new booklets, and conducting briefings, seminars and training for relevant parties. The Commission will continue to work closely with its stakeholders to publicize widely the importance of preventing sexual harassment.
Furthermore, Members were glad to note that the EOC Forum 2014 had been successfully held on 13 November with an attendance of 392 participants, representing a 30% increase in the number of participants over the figure of the 2013 Forum. From the questionnaires returned to the EOC, 82% considered that the Forum could enhance communication of the Commission with stakeholders and members of the public; and 90% supported the EOC to hold similar forums in the future.
The Chairperson of the EOC, Dr. York CHOW, also reported on the progress of the Discrimination Law Review (DLR) public consultation, which had been completed on 31 October 2014. EOC Members noted that about 122,000 submissions from individuals and organizations were received.
The EOC is in the process of inputting the responses into a database to facilitate analysis of information. The Commission aims to publish a report, with quantitative and qualitative analyses of the submissions in the middle of 2015, as well as the EOC’s findings and recommendations to the Government in the second half of 2015.
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Equal Opportunities Commission
18 December 2014