EOC Expresses Concerns about Sexual Harassment Incidents Allegedly Occurred on Campus
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) is deeply concerned about media reports published today (20 May 2022) mentioning that a male teacher allegedly watched a pornographic film with his mobile phone during a lesson and accidentally projected the images onto the screen in the classroom.
Mr Ricky CHU Man-kin, EOC Chairperson said, “The EOC is deeply concerned about the incident. The alleged act may be in breach of the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO), Cap. 480. The EOC urges members of the public to make enquiries with us if they want to know more about the protections against sexual harassment under the SDO.”
Under the SDO, sexual harassment includes any unwelcome sexual behaviour directed towards the harassed person in circumstances which a reasonable person would have anticipated that the harassed person would be offended, humiliated, or intimidated. It includes any unwelcome sexual behaviour or conduct, or behaviours creating a sexually hostile or intimidating environment such as displaying pornographic photos or videos within eyeshot of other staff or students on the school premises.
Mr CHU emphasised, “Sexual harassment between teaching staff and students, or between students, is unlawful. Schools must take ‘reasonably practicable steps’ to prevent sexual harassment; otherwise, under certain circumstances, they might be held vicariously liable for the unlawful acts of sexual harassment committed by employees in the course of their employment, even if the schools are not aware of the sexual harassment incidents. In principle, ‘reasonably practicable steps’ should include formulating and promoting a policy on preventing sexual harassment, and organising seminars and training activities to raise the awareness of students, parents, staff, voluntary helpers and contract workers, service providers, agents, etc. on preventing sexual harassment.”
Mr CHU continued, “The recent incident of sexual harassment on campus is possibly related to the improper use of the internet. The findings of the ‘Territory-wide Representative Survey on Sexual Harassment in Hong Kong 2021’ released by the EOC last week also mentioned the possible sexual harassment acts when using the internet. Around one in six of the respondents (17.8%) reported having been sexually harassed online over the past 24 months prior to the survey. The Anti-Sexual Harassment Unit of the EOC has stepped up its efforts in combating sexual harassment through prevention, research, policy advocacy, policy guidance and training. The Unit also operates an Anti-Sexual Harassment Hotline to provide the first port of call service for those affected by sexual harassment.”
Members of the public who would like to know more about sexual harassment, including related legal provisions, protected areas and complaint-handling procedures can visit the EOC’s Anti-Sexual Harassment Resource Platform (https://www.eoc.org.hk/compass/) or call the Anti-Sexual Harassment Hotline (2106 2222) to make enquiries.
For recommendations and details of the “Territory-wide Representative Survey on Sexual Harassment in Hong Kong 2021”, please refer to the report: https://www.eoc.org.hk/en/policy-advocacy-and-research/research-reports/2022-1.
Equal Opportunities Commission
20 May 2022