EOC holds Roundtable on Elimination of Sexual Harassment in Higher Education Sector
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) today (27 May 2022) held the “Roundtable on Experiences and Challenges in Eliminating Sexual Harassment in the Higher Education Sector”. Representatives from nine universities exchanged their views and experiences in combating campus sexual harassment at the roundtable discussions.
The EOC also published the “Follow-up Report of the Break the Silence Study: Anti-Sexual Harassment Actions Taken by Universities in 2019-2021” at the occasion. The follow-up report showed that an average of 13 out of 16 recommendations made in the EOC 2019’s “Break the Silence: Territory-wide Study on Sexual Harassment of University Students in Hong Kong” (“Break the Silence”) report were reported having implemented, or committed to implementing by the nine universities between 2019 and 2021.
Mr Ricky CHU Man-kin, Chairperson of the EOC said, “Anti-sexual harassment has always been one of the top work priorities of the EOC and we are very much concerned about elimination of sexual harassment on campus. I would like to take this opportunity to express commendation for the nine universities’ anti-sexual harassment work, as well as our sincerest gratitude for their active participation and support in our Break the Silence study and the follow-up report. We wish this could be a good example for all other universities and tertiary institutions to follow, in order to eliminate sexual harassment for everyone in the higher education sector in Hong Kong.”
Representatives from the nine participating universities, which participated in the Break the Silence study in 2018, were invited to the event today to discuss how to effectively eliminate campus sexual harassment and promote anti-sexual harassment education to their students. Other key stakeholders such as representatives from universities, tertiary institutions, and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) were also invited to attend the Roundtable, with a view to encouraging them to learn from the good practices adopted by the participating universities as appropriate. All stakeholders participated in the two roundtable discussions today, actively exchanging views on strengthening universities’ governance, policies and complaint mechanism to eliminate sexual harassment; and promoting anti-sexual harassment training and educational programmes.
“We hope this Roundtable can provide the EOC with concrete evidence to track the impact of the large-scale Break the Silence study, and formulate its next steps in combatting sexual harassment in the higher education sector and society as a whole,” said Dr Ferrick CHU Chung-man, Executive Director (Operations) of the EOC.
The findings of the “Follow-up Report of the Break the Silence Study: Anti-Sexual Harassment Actions Taken by Universities in 2019-2021” were presented at the beginning of the Roundtable. The report showed that overall, the nine participating universities reported having implemented, or committed to implementing, an average of 13 out of 16 recommendations made in the Break the Silence report.
“This encouraging figure indicated that many of the participating universities have translated their commitment on anti-sexual harassment into real actions, and have given due consideration to the recommendations made by the EOC. We are pleased to learn that the nine participating universities have been making great efforts towards building a safe and harassment-free campus for university students,” Dr CHU continued.
The report also indicated that nine or more recommendations were reported having implemented or committed to implementing by the nine universities, while one university reported that they have already implemented all 16 recommendations. All nine participating universities reported having implemented two recommendations, which are related to sexual harassment complaint handling mechanisms, i.e., each university should clearly lay out the division of labour among departments explicitly for handling sexual harassment complaints, as well as specify that confidentiality and protection against victimisation are guaranteed in their anti-sexual harassment policy and complaint procedures.
Besides the two roundtable discussions mentioned above, an online training module on preventing sexual harassment for university students, which was EOC’s collaboration with the eight UGC-funded universities, was introduced at the event. This training module is expected to be launched within this year. Moreover, two NGOs, The Association for the Advancement of Feminism and Sticky Rice Love, were invited to share their research findings on anti-sexual harassment policies of tertiary educational institutions and their experience on promoting sexuality education for youths respectively at the event.
The representatives of the nine universities participating at the roundtable discussions were from City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong Metropolitan University, Lingnan University, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, The Education University of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and The University of Hong Kong.
In 2018, the EOC, collaborating with nine universities, conducted its very first territory-wide, large-scale and mixed-method study examining the issue of sexual harassment of university students in Hong Kong. Since the release of the Break the Silence study, the EOC has conducted a series of follow-up actions to promote the research findings and advocate for policy changes. To allow all the participating universities to share and learn from each other about their actions to eliminate sexual harassment and to allow key stakeholders to know more about how to prevent and eliminate campus sexual harassment, the nine universities were invited last year to provide the EOC with an update of the anti-sexual harassment actions taken or planned by them since 2019. A follow-up report aggregated and summarised the data submitted by the nine universities was then prepared and published today.
For details of findings, please read the "Follow-up Report of the Break the Silence Study: Anti-Sexual Harassment Actions Taken by Universities in 2019-2021".
Equal Opportunities Commission
27 May 2022
(From left) Mr James CHAN, Senior Policy, Research and Training Officer, EOC; Ms Kitty CHOI, Director, “Sticky Rice Love”; Dr SUN Jue, Leader of the Research Team, The Association for the Advancement of Feminism; Mr Ricky CHU, Chairperson, EOC; Mr CHONG Yiu-kwong, Senior Lecturer, Department of Education Policy and Leadership, The Education University of Hong Kong; Dr Ferrick CHU, Executive Director (Operations), EOC; and Miss Christy CHEUNG, Policy, Research and Training Officer, EOC attended the “Roundtable on Experiences and Challenges in Eliminating Sexual Harassment in the Higher Education Sector” organised by the EOC today (27 May 2022).
Representatives from universities, tertiary institutions and Non-Governmental Organisations exchanged their views and experiences in combating campus sexual harassment at the roundtable discussions.