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Business trends

Time to confront workplace sexual harassment in Asia

Patriarchal managers and expectations of favors enable abuse

| China
A woman attends a rally in Seoul on March 8 to support the #MeToo movement.

The #MeToo movement against sexual harassment that kicked off in the U.S. is starting to gain momentum in Asia. Actresses in Hong Kong, a prosecutor in South Korea, a journalist in Japan and even factory workers in China have spoken out about their experiences with workplace sexual harassment, putting to rest any notion the problem is not a concern in Asia.

A study in 2009 by D.K. Srivastava, the former pro vice chancellor of O.P. Jindal Global University, in India, found that 80% of working women in China had experienced sexual harassment at least once in their careers. Some 70% of female factory workers participating in a more recent survey conducted in the city of Guangzhou by the Sunflower Women Workers Center reported encountering sexual harassment. Similarly, 84% of female Chinese journalists polled by reporter Sophia Huang Xueqin said they suffered from workplace sexual harassment. Some 20% reported at least five such experiences, but only 3.5% had reported any incidents to senior managers.

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