Sexual Harassment in Urban China

William L. Parish, University of Chicago
Aniruddha Das, University of Chicago
Edward O. Laumann, University of Chicago

Using data from the nationally representative Chinese Health and Family Life survey, this paper analyzes the prevalence and correlates of sexual harassment in China. In contrast to many Western studies emphasizing workplace and school harassment, this study includes and finds substantial harassment by peers and strangers. The results indicate that despite its predominance in the literature, the power differentials approach, focusing on male-female power differentials in patriarchal societies, is of less utility than the routine activities approach from criminology, which emphasizes risk factors emerging from attributes of the victim and from the situational context. The latter include opportunity, benefit, and cost. The most striking results from the data represent the area receiving the least attention in the West, i.e. the perpetrator’s perception of ‘benefit,’ deriving from the victim’s inadvertent ‘signaling.’ Finally, harassment occurs less along gender lines, and more along a traditional-progressive continuum, with both men and women being targeted.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Fertility, Family Planning, Unions, and Sexual Behavior