EOC Releases Report on the Formulation of Anti-Sexual Harassment Policies of National Sports Associations in Hong Kong 2020 and Launches the Anti-Sexual Harassment Hotline
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has today (25 January 2020) released findings from its “Report on the Formulation of Anti-Sexual Harassment Policies (Anti-SH Policies) of National Sports Associations (NSAs) in Hong Kong 2020”. The findings indicated a significant improvement on the formulation and transparency of Anti-SH Policies among NSAs, compared to the previous similar Studies conducted by the EOC in 2014 and 2018. The EOC has also announced the launch of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Hotline at 2106 2222 manned by its newly established Anti-Sexual Harassment Unit (ASHU) to provide a first port of call service for those affected by sexual harassment.
“A safe and healthy environment free of sexual harassment is crucial in allowing sports to nurture positive values and attitudes in sports players,” said Dr Ferrick CHU Chung-man, Executive Director (Operations) of the EOC. “From the findings of our Studies, it is encouraging to note that a substantial increase of NSAs have taken action to formulate and implement Anti-SH Policies in their organisations. The number of NSAs which have an Anti-SH Policy and/or Code of Conduct on Anti-Sexual Harassment for Coaches or Instructors (Code of Conduct) has increased from 20 responding NSAs (27%) in 2014 to 71 NSAs (90%) among the 79 NSAs in October 2020. The findings indicate that the joint effort of the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China (SF&OC), the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) and the EOC in raising awareness is crucial in promoting anti-sexual harassment policies in the sports sector.”
The EOC has been working closely with the SF&OC and other stakeholders to promote a healthy, safe and sexual harassment free environment in the sports sector. The EOC has organised two rounds of Anti-Sexual Harassment Campaign with seminars, training workshops and questionnaire surveys for NSAs in 2014/15 and in 2018 respectively. A policy framework and an easy guide on “Formulating Policy on Sexual Harassment in Sports Organisations” for NSAs were also prepared, with a view to facilitating NSAs to develop an effective Anti-SH Policy.
In order to understand how far the NSAs in Hong Kong have adopted measures to prevent sexual harassment, the EOC has conducted a desktop research between May and October 2020 to find out whether the 79 NSAs under the SF&OC at the time have formulated an Anti-SH Policy and/or a Code of Conduct and posted their Policy/Code of Conduct on their websites for public viewing.
Highlights of the findings of the research include:
- Significant improvement on the formulation of Anti-SH Policies among NSAs: Out of the 79 NSAs, 71 NSAs (90%) have developed an Anti-SH Policy and/or a Code of Conduct in October 2020. According to the previous studies, only 20 responding NSAs (27%) in 2014 and 28 responding NSAs (35%) in 2018 reported in the EOC surveys that they had an Anti-SH Policy or Code of Conduct.
- Enhanced transparency of and easier access to NSAs’ Anti-SH information: 90% of the responding NSAs (71 NSAs) have posted the Anti-SH Policy and/or Code of Conduct on their websites for public access in 2020, up from 29% in 2018 and 0% in 2014.
- Subvented NSAs are more likely to formulate an Anti-SH Policy:
All the 60 subvented NSAs (100%) had formulated an Anti-SH Policy and/or a Code of Conduct (By October 2020, 25 subvented NSAs have both, 29 have formulated an Anti-SH Policy only, while 6 subvented NSAs show only a Code of Conduct on their website. The latest development in January 2021 is that 3 more subvented NSAs have developed an Anti-SH Policy, which makes the number of subvented NSAs having both Policy and Code of Conduct increases to 28, while 29 subvented NSAs have formulated a Policy only and 3 have a Code of Conduct only).
Among the 19 self-financed NSAs, 11 (58%) had formulated an Anti-SH Policy and/or Code of Conduct (By October 2020, 2 self-financed NSAs have both, 5 have formulated an Anti-SH Policy, 4 have only got a Code of Conduct), while 7 self-financed NSAs (37%) had not yet done so and 1 self-financed NSA has no website.
In this Study, the NSAs’ policies have been checked against the 11 essential elements identified for an effective anti-sexual harassment policy. The findings include:
- Among the 61 NSAs with an Anti-SH Policy, 27 NSAs (44%) included all 11 essential elements in their policy. The most common items included in the policy statement on anti-sexual harassment are: “A clear statement that sexual harassment will not be tolerated” (100%); “Policy applies to all levels of staff” (97%); “Definition and examples of sexual harassment” (95%); and “Procedure for dealing with sexual harassment complaints” (95%).
- Fewer NSAs have included a note on assuring that “No one will be penalized for complaining in good faith” (67%) and “Measures to prevent sexual harassment” (70%).
- Among the 61 NSAs with an Anti-SH Policy, 16 NSAs have not included the contacts of designated persons for handling sexual harassment complaints in their Policy.
- Ten NSAs (including both subvented and self-financed) adopted a Code of Conduct alone without a Policy. Some of the above essential elements have been included in the Code of Conduct. However, as the Code of Conduct itself does not include any contact information of designated persons for handling complaints, it may be difficult for the athletes to seek advice and help at once if they encounter sexual harassment.
It is also worth mentioning that an increasing number of NSAs require their prospective employees and coaches who will engage in work with underage trainees or young athletes to undergo the Sexual Conviction Record Check (SCRC). The SCRC is to verify whether the prospective employees do not have criminal conviction records against a specified list of sexual offences. In 2020, 45 NSAs (57%) have required their prospective employees to apply for the SCRC, compared to only 15 responding NSAs in the 2014 Survey and 25 responding NSAs in the 2018 Survey having this requirement.
According to the findings of the research, the EOC has made the following recommendations:
- Implementation of Anti-SH Policy in NSAs and their Affiliates: Some studies on the #MeToo movement suggested that the reasons for a growing number of victims using social media as an unofficial channel for reporting sexual misconduct may be related to the obstacles of official complaint mechanism. Therefore, NSAs should have a comprehensive Anti-SH Policy including all 11 essentials elements, especially listing out the information of the complaint handling mechanism, and the protection for complainant and witnesses, in order to reduce barriers for victims or witnesses for filing a complaint. NSAs should inform all members about the implementation of Anti-SH Policy and encourage their affiliated clubs to adopt the Policy and preventive measures.
- Assign a designated person as Gender Focal Point in NSAs: NSAs may consider having a designated person as the Gender Focal Point (GFP) who serves as a resource person to provide support in sexual harassment cases, and make sure the Anti-SH Policy can be properly implemented. GFP should also assist in raising awareness on anti-sexual harassment and gender equality by providing training and refresher training to all staff on a regular basis. Staff who are responsible for handling sexual harassment complaints should also receive formal and comprehensive training.
- Establish Gender Focal Point Network in Sports Sector: The Home Affairs Bureau and the LCSD may consider establishing a GFP Network in sports sector to promote anti-sexual harassment and gender equality, and encourage self-financed NSAs and sports organisations to adopt preventive measures on sexual harassment. In addition, it is recommended that District Sports Associations (DSAs) should be included in the GFP Network in the Sports Sector. This will encourage all DSAs to appoint a GFP, and adopt a safeguarding policy and procedures to protect young athletes.
- EOC joins hands with the sports sector to promote anti-sexual harassment: Continuous training and education for athletes and coaches is needed for changing attitude and raising awareness on the prevention of sexual harassment in the sports sector, and should be further extended from the NSAs level to the district sports level. The EOC will further liaise with SF&OC and other key stakeholders in this sector to raise the awareness of sexual harassment, in particular about the latest amendment of Sex Discrimination Ordinance with an extended scope of protection on sexual harassment.
With additional funding from the Government, the EOC established the dedicated ASHU in November 2020 to strengthen the effort in combating sexual harassment through prevention, research, policy advocacy, policy guidance and training. The ASHU is tasked with promoting public awareness on anti-sexual harassment policies and measures; conducting a holistic review of the current legal regime to identify protection gaps and recommend legislative amendments where appropriate; and acting as a first port of call for those affected by sexual harassment with a view to addressing the issue for underreporting of sexual harassment among victims.
Mr Ricky CHU Man-kin, Chairperson of the EOC said, “With the establishment of the ASHU, enquiries relating to sexual harassment received by the EOC will be first handled by the ASHU. We are glad to officially launch the Anti-Sexual Harassment Hotline at 2106 2222 today, with a view to providing members of the public with information on provisions of the law, advice on where to lodge complaints and seek redress, and referral to counselling and therapy services. Not only victims of sexual harassment, but employers and human resources personnel who wish to learn about their liabilities and anyone who wants to know more on this topic, can also approach the ASHU for guidance.”
For details, please refer to the full report on the Formulation of Anti-Sexual Harassment Policies of National Sports Associations on the EOC website:
Photo caption: Mr Ricky CHU Man-kin, Chairperson of the EOC (centre), Dr Ferrick CHU Chung-man, Executive Director (Operations) of the EOC (second from right), Ms Kitty LAM, Chief Policy, Research & Training Officer (first from right), Ms Susana SOO, Senior Equal Opportunities Officer (Anti-SH Unit) (second from left), and Mr Jimmy LO, Policy, Research & Training Officer (first from left), presented the findings and recommendations of the Study at the press conference today.
Equal Opportunities Commission
25 January 2021