Beijing police asks women to 'cover up'

Beijing police asks women to 'cover up'

Beijing police asks women to 'cover up'

As complaints of sexual harassment of women in public transport increased here, the Beijing Police has warned women against wearing "minimal clothing" like mini skirts or hot pants while travelling in buses and subways.

"Women should not wear minimal clothing, such as mini skirts or hot pants when taking public transportation and should call police promptly if they are sexually harassed," the guidelines published by Beijing police and public transport authorities said, state run China Daily reported.

"Women are advised to not sit on higher levels of buses and to stand on lower stairs, to avoid being the target of inappropriate picture-taking, and they should shelter their bodies with bags, magazines and newspapers," it said.

Anyone caught harassing women would have to undergo 15 day punishment, the guidelines said.

The new regulations were published to prevent the sexual harassment of passengers on buses and subways but critics were sceptical about the efficacy of such measures, the report said.

The guidelines came amid increasing complaints of grouping and surreptitious photographing with mobile phones.

Xing Wei, a police officer with the department, said yesterday that the guideline has been published on the bureau's micro blog, asking that women be informed to increase awareness for protection.

"It is hard for us to collect evidence in sexual harassment cases despite cameras on buses and subways. It is also difficult to train public transportation workers to assist women in harassment prevention and response," Xiang said.

Now, police will warn, fine and detain perpetrators of sexual harassment in accordance with a security control regulation in place, he said, adding the heaviest punishment is a 15-day detention.

Wang Jiansheng, director of the security department with Fourth Transport Company under Beijing Public Transport Holdings Ltd, echoed the police officer, saying the best safety method is to ask conductors to remind women to protect themselves, rather than publish notices or establish a rule.

"When a woman informs the company that she has been sexually harassed, we'll report to the police and assist them in the investigation," Wang said.

Commenting on the new rule Jiang Yue, a law professor at Xiamen University and an expert in women's rights, said the advisory from police will not solve the problem at its root.

"In fact, it's easy and necessary to require transport operators to provide warnings on buses and subways," Jiang said.

"Passengers pay to take transport, so they have the responsibly to give them a safe environment".

Jiang suggested a law to prevent sexual harassment, adding harassment affects men as well as women.

Lin Lixia, an expert in women's protection with Beijing Zhongze Women's Legal Counseling and Service Centre, agreed with Jiang, adding that a law should make the responsibility and punishment of the transport operators clear.