SEX-TALK is to be banned from the civil service following growing concern about the number of women suffering from sexual harassment. Sweeping new guidelines which ban civil servants from making 'sexual innuendoes', 'lewd comments' and indulging in 'unnecessary touching, patting or pinching or brushing against the other person's body' are to be introduced in March. 'A person sexually harasses a woman if: the person makes an unwelcome sexual advance or an unwelcome request for sexual favours, or engages in other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature,' states an internal memo being circulated to section heads. 'We want to discourage discussion of sex in the office and concentrate on work,' said Principal Assistant Secretary (Staff Relations) Victor Yung Chuk-hung, who helped draft the guidelines. The move comes after Secretary for Civil Service Michael Sze Cho-cheung told Legco last April that there were 18 complaints of sexual harassment lodged by women in the civil service from 1991 to 1994. Three officers were charged with sexual assault and two were convicted. 'It is not a serious problem,' he said. 'It is a preventive move. The Government wants to provide all civil servants with a sexual harassment-free working environment.' However, defining sexual harassment has already been a problem. In October, an initial draft was circulated for comment but several suggested criteria had to be modified. 'We had to do away with leering,' said Mr Yung. 'It was too difficult to define.' Proposed censorship of 'foul language' was also dropped as was the stricture against 'sexual jokes'. Nevertheless, there is concern that the final draft is too broad. 'Touching and patting can be just friendly; we should keep some perspective,' said senior civil servant Betty Shum Sheng Yin-yuk. The same strictures against harassment apply to men. Association of Government Information Officers chairman Tommy Hahn said he had never experienced sexual harassment and knew of no men who had. 'I would not joke about sex in the office,' he said. 'But if I was with some broad-minded officers after work I might tell a dirty joke.' The guidelines were drawn up after studying similar proposals in Australia and Britain.