Amendments to mainland laws are expected within months to address the growing problem of sexual harassment Amid a surge in sexual harassment cases filed in mainland courts, legal changes are being drafted to bolster women's rights. Xu Weihua, head of the rights protection department at the All-China Women's Federation, was quoted by the Guangzhou Daily as saying that legal experts had started work on an amendment to a law on the protection of women's rights - and a new clause on sexual harassment would be introduced. The draft, to be completed in the next six months, would also include changes in women's political and labour rights, rights within the family and marriage, as well as women's rights to social security. Ms Xu said some technical issues would be hard to resolve in the legislative process: proving allegations of sexual harassment would remain particularly difficult since in most cases there were no witnesses, she said. In what was widely regarded as the mainland's first sexual harassment lawsuit in late 2001, a female worker at a state-owned enterprise in Xian lost her case against her boss because of insufficient evidence. The woman accused her company manager of deliberately touching her body. After she lodged a complaint, her boss withheld her bonus and allowance and told her she would be sacked if she did not withdraw the complaint. Ms Xu said she hoped that heavy compensation would be awarded to victims in order 'to deter potential offenders.' She also said: 'I think women should be particularly aware of self-protection, while asserting their rights. They should be mindful about keeping evidence.' Several high-profile sexual harassment cases have hit the headlines. Two weeks ago, a woman teacher from Wuhan won an unprecedented victory and was awarded 2,000 yuan (HK$1,900) in compensation for psychological damage. But another woman from Beijing, Lei Man, lost her case against her boss. She was only able to sue for damage to her honour and dignity in the absence of a law against sexual harassment. The mainland has no law on sexual harassment and its civil law lacks clearly defined provisions on the infringement on citizens' personal rights. Legal experts say it is therefore difficult for victims to sue successfully until a new law on sexual harassment is introduced. The number of reports of sexual harassment has risen during the past several years, but very few have ended up in court. Ma Yinan, a Peking University expert on legislation affecting women, warned against too much optimism over the new law, saying it would be difficult for victims to prove allegations of sexual harassment in court. The Chinese phrase for sexual harassment - xing saorao - is a relatively new concept on the mainland, where it is still a taboo subject. Many victims choose to remain silent, fearing that bringing such cases to court - amid the lack of adequate legal protection - will risk damaging their reputation.