EOC Statement in Response to the Alleged Bullying and Sexual Harassment in the Dormitory of The University of Hong Kong
In response to recent media reports mentioning that students in the dormitory of The University of Hong Kong bullied and harassed two hall mates who are female students from the Mainland China, and made discriminatory and harassing remarks, the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) issued the following statement:
Mr Ricky CHU Man-kin, Chairperson of the EOC, said, "The EOC considers that the alleged acts mentioned by the media are despicable. It may be in breach of the provisions on sexual harassment under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO), Cap. 480. It is also regarded as a kind of bullying, discrimination and harassment against students based on their identity as mainlanders. The EOC strongly condemns all acts of bullying, discrimination and harassment on campus, regardless of the rationales behind. Such acts are absolutely unacceptable. Universities are places to cultivate knowledge and abilities and students should respect and care for each other, learning together for continuous progress and development. Bullying should never be tolerated on campus. The EOC calls on the aggrieved persons to contact the EOC for enquiries or complaints and provide detailed information on the incident so that the EOC can investigate into and follow up on the matter."
The Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO) protects any person from sexual harassment in prescribed areas of activities, including education, employment, provision of goods, services and/or facilities, etc. 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 making unwelcome sexual demands or sex-related obscene jokes, etc.
Mr CHU emphasised, “Teachers and students are protected from sexual harassment under the SDO and sexual harassment among students is unlawful under the SDO. Combatting sexual harassment has always been one of the work priorities of the EOC. The EOC is committed to eliminating sexual harassment on campus through prevention, research, policy advocacy, policy guidance and training. The dedicated Anti-Sexual Harassment Unit (ASHU) was established by the EOC to strengthen our effort in combating sexual harassment. The Anti-Sexual Harassment Hotline was established by the ASHU to provide the first port of call for those affected by sexual harassment.”
Mr CHU added, “The incident also involves bullying and harassment against students as mainlanders. Such intolerant and inflammatory remarks and acts will only aggravate social division and undermine social unity, which must be stopped and condemned. The current Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO) protects people against discrimination, harassment, and vilification on the ground of their race. Under the RDO, "race" means the race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin of a person. The EOC is all along concerned about the discrimination, harassment and vilification faced by Mainland Chinese and new arrivals to Hong Kong due to their status. Last year, the EOC submitted its legal study on addressing discrimination and harassment between people born in Hong Kong and those from the Mainland China. The government is actively following up on the EOC's proposal. The EOC will also study whether the alleged bullying and harassment in this incident also contravenes the existing relevant ordinances."
Equal Opportunities Commission
13 September 2022