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Sexual harassment and assault

Staff at Hong Kong youth group to have sexual harassment training after former female workers say claims they were assaulted not taken seriously

  • Breakthrough issues apology to ex-employee and volunteer, and says it is making changes
  • Equal Opportunities Commission being consulted and has been invited to put on workshops for staff
PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 December, 2018, 8:32am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 December, 2018, 8:32am

Managers and staff at a leading Hong Kong youth group will be trained on how to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, after two former workers said their claims they had been assaulted were not taken seriously.

Breakthrough said it was consulting the Equal Opportunities Commission on updating its internal guidelines on sexual harassment, in addition to inviting the commission to arrange workshops for the youth group’s staff next February and March.

The move followed allegations that the group had been reluctant when it came to handling sex harassment complaints involving its former staff members.

Two women who claimed last year to have been assaulted, Minnie Li Ming, a lecturer at Education University, and Faye Dorcas Yung, an assistant professor at Open University, led a protest outside Breakthrough’s office in Sha Tin on Thursday, demanding the group hold a public discussion about their complaints, and tighten up its policy on sexual harassment.

“We are not troublemakers,” Yung said. “We believe our plight was the result of the culture of the organisation, and a lack of policy. We hope the organisation can take the problem seriously.”

Yung claimed she had been harassed by a male staff member between 2012 and 2016, when she was working at Youth Global Network, an affiliated unit of Breakthrough.

Li said she was a victim of sexual harassment when working as a volunteer at the group.

Both filed complaints last year to Breakthrough, which later told them the staff member in question had resigned.

More than one in 10 women in Hong Kong’s service industry say they have been sexually harassed

In a statement issued on Thursday, Breakthrough said it took the complaints seriously and had updated its anti-sexual harassment guidelines in January.

“A further review of the guidelines on preventing discrimination and harassment is under way and the Equal Opportunities Commission is being consulted,” the statement read, “Moreover, we are also inviting the commission to offer training and workshops for staff in the first quarter of 2019.”

The Youth Global Network also apologised to Yung and Li for not having communicated with them in a better way, and giving the impression it was not taking the matter seriously.

But, the group declined a public discussion on the cases, citing privacy concerns.