HONG KONG — Forget the summer heat: the solution to stopping gropers is for women to eschew "mini skirts and hot pants" while riding public transportation, according to guidelines published on the microblog account of the Beijing police.
Meanwhile, to thwart voyeurs they should stop sitting on the upper levels of buses, and "shelter their bodies with bags, magazines and newspapers."
The guidelines further recommended that if women are being harassed, they should push the groper when the bus is slowing down or braking.
Police are advising women to take matters into their own hands — as it were — because of the difficulty of bringing harassment complaints to court, they claimed.
"It is hard for us to collect evidence in sexual harassment cases despite cameras on buses and subways," officer Xing Wei told China Daily. "It is also difficult to train public transportation workers to assist women in harassment prevention and response."
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And don't expect much help from Beijing's public transport operators. They don't have a hotline where passengers can report complaints and most buses aren't equipped with surveillance cameras, said Wang Jiansheng, the head of security for a company that provides its services to Beijing Public Transport.
"After all, as a transport company, our main job is to take passengers to their destinations," he added.
Others disagreed, arguing that it was the transport company's reponsibility to ensure its customers could ride in safety.
It seems Beijing has learned little from the outcry Shanghai's transport authorities provoked when, last June, they urged female subway passengers to "have self-respect" and avoid dressing in skimpy summer clothes.
That directive prompted accusations of sexism and even a mini sit-in on subway line 2.
Despite the offense caused to some, a poll conducted via the Sina Weibo microblogging site found that almost 70 percent of respondents agreed women should dress more conservatively on the subway, the South China Morning Post reported at the time.
Even if gropers are caught, China's current law provides a maximum 15-day jail sentence for those convicted of sexual harassment.
Benjamin Carlson reported from Hong Kong.