EOC Expresses Concerns Over Allegations of Sexual Harassment at University Orientation Camps
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) expresses deep concerns over recent media reports of sexual harassment incidents at university orientation camps.
Mr Ricky CHU Man-kin, EOC Chairperson said, “The EOC is deeply concerned by the alleged incidents. Based on media reports, the alleged behaviours may contravene articles related to sexual harassment under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance. There should be zero tolerance for such behaviours. Not only do they cause psychological and physical harm to the affected students, but they may even negatively impact students’ development beyond their time in university. The EOC calls on victims and witnesses of sexual harassment to come forward and take action by reporting to their universities, the EOC and/or law enforcement agencies as soon as possible.”
The Sex Discrimination Ordinance, Cap. 480 (SDO) protects individuals from sexual harassment in prescribed areas, including education and employment. Under the SDO, sexual harassment refers to any unwelcome or uninvited sexual behaviour directed towards a person in circumstances which a reasonable person would have anticipated that the harassed person would be offended, humiliated or intimidated. It also includes creating a sexually hostile or intimidating environment for others.
Mr CHU emphasised, “Combating sexual harassment on campuses is a top priority for the EOC. We have long established close partnerships with local universities to foster safe campuses for staff and students through various initiatives, including research, policy recommendations and training. We are ready to provide the support universities need to eliminate sexual harassment on campuses.”
Following the publishing of Break the Silence: Territory-wide Study on Sexual Harassment of University Students in Hong Kong in 2019, the EOC has followed up on the universities’ improvement measures to tackle sexual harassment on campus. In May 2022, the EOC held a roundtable to give university representatives a platform to share their views on and experience of combating sexual harassment on campuses. Earlier this year, the EOC also launched an online course on preventing sexual harassment for the eight universities funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC). A similar online course for non-UGC-funded universities is currently in development and is expected to be launched in 2024-25.
With specific regard to preventing sexual harassment at orientation camps, the EOC issues a letter to universities every year, including in June 2023, calling on universities to require students to receive anti-sexual harassment training, especially students who may lead, organise or join orientation camps. This also provides universities with an opportunity to strengthen new students’ understanding of sexual harassment before they start their university life. In addition, the EOC has continued to provide training related to sexual harassment to universities. Between January and August this year, a total of 33 training sessions involving around 2,000 students and staff were conducted on various campuses.
Members of the public are welcome to call the EOC’s Anti-Sexual Harassment Hotline 2106 2222 if they have any questions or enquiries. Apart from providing information on relevant legal provisions and ways to submit complaints and seek redress, the hotline can also make referrals to counselling, therapy and legal services if necessary. Members of the public can also visit the EOC’s COMPASS website (https://www.eoc.org.hk/compass/en/) for more information.
Equal Opportunities Commission
4 September 2023