China’s top legislative body has updated its gender laws to introduce a new list of moral standards for women.
On Sunday, the National People’s Congress passed an amendment to the decades-old Women’s Rights and Interests Protection Act to ensure women uphold “family values.” The opening chapter, which summarizes the principles of the revised legislation, notes: “Women should respect and obey national laws, respect social morals, professional ethics and family values.”
The updated law comes as the country faces lower birthrates and decreasing marriage figures, putting more pressure on women to adopt traditional housekeeping roles.
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China’s Politburo saw a recent reshuffling in key leadership positions after President Xi Jinping promoted a number of male allies, effectively excluding women from the country’s top-decision making body.
Guo Linmao, an official from the Legislative Affairs Commission of the parliament’s Standing Committee, said the revised law “highlights the importance of women’s reputations and personal rights, in response to several hot issues and public concerns involving women in recent years.”
The amendment also introduced changes to sexual harassment and discrimination cases, including a ban on employment restrictions that deny promotions to women due to their marital or pregnancy status.
Lower-level government units are also now required to report any suspected case of abduction or trafficking of women to authorities as soon as possible.
Employers will be held accountable if they are proven to have violated women’s interests as well as their labor and social security rights. Meanwhile, obstructing the rescue of trafficked and kidnapped women will be considered as an offense.
Government-run news agency Xinhua said the legislation “strengthens the protection of the rights and interests of disadvantaged groups such as poor women, elderly women, and disabled women.”