Indirectly-elected lawmaker Chan Hong, who heads the Macau Chinese Educators’ Association, urged the public University of Macau (UM) Monday to speed up its investigation into several alleged cases of sexual harassment involving staff members and then release the findings.
She also said new legislation on indecent assault and sexual harassment should be in place to better protect victims.
Chan, who represents the city’s teaching profession, made the remarks in the legislative chamber before attending a committee meeting.
Asked by reporters for her comment on the recent allegations of several cases of sexual harassment involving UM staff members, Chan said that her association was concerned about the allegations.
UM Rector Zhao Wei told the media last week that since he took the helm of the university in 2008 there have been four complaints about sexual harassment, three of which were received by his office in the second half of last year. He said that the three alleged cases were still in their initial stages of investigation.
The latest sexual harassment allegations were made by several female UM students. One of the cases is alleged to involve a department head.
The university said last year that one of its male associate professors was suspended for 10 days due to his suspected involvement in a case of sexual harassment.
Chan said that her association reached a consensus that all schools and tertiary educational institutions should come up with their own guidelines to deal with any complaints involving sexual harassment.
Chan also said she was unable to comment on the way that the UM dealt with the associate professor who was suspected of sexual harassment as she was not familiar with the university’s relevant regulations.
Regarding the apparent legal vacuum concerning indecent assault and sexual harassment, Chan said specific legislation for both should be in place as soon as possible. She also said that she would study the relevant information, adding that members of the public should also make their views on the matter known.
After Chan’s remarks, Zhao said in a statement Monday that the university would speed up the handling of suspected sexual harassment cases involving faculty members.
Zhao also said the university would improve its mechanism concerning disciplinary inquiries and establish specific guidelines for handling sexual harassment cases after studying the practices in “advanced” countries and regions.
The rector also vowed in the statement that the UM would release the results of its sexual harassment investigations in due course, pointing out that the UM also planned to establish an equal opportunities commission in the near future. (macaunews/macaupost)