Shanghai Metro 'dress code' warning sparks debate

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Media captionWhat is too revealing for the Shanghai subway?

A Shanghai Metro microblog post urging women to ''pay attention to how you dress'' to avoid sexual harassment has sparked protests and strong reactions.

The metro operator posted a picture of a woman in a see-through dress on its Twitter-like Weibo account, saying: "It's no wonder that some people get harassed if they dress like this."

This drew criticism for discrimination and sexism from irate women.

But in an online poll, most agreed that women should dress more conservatively.

The post published by Shanghai No 2 Subway Co on Wednesday added that there were many perverts on the subway and asked women to ''cherish'' themselves.

This set off a flurry of comments online, with many decrying the suggestion that women were to blame for sexual harassment by dressing scantily.

"According to this logic, all men can harass women in swimming pools?" one microblog user was quoted as saying in China Daily.

''Even if a woman doesn't wear revealing clothes, it doesn't mean she won't be sexually harassed,'' another user pointed out.

On Sunday, two women walked through the metro trains with their faces covered in black and carrying signs in protest. One sign read: ''I can be coquettish; but you cannot harass me.''

A spokesman for the metro company denied allegations that the post was justifying sexual harassment, and said it was meant to be a ''kind reminder'' to women.

"As the city's subway operator, we have the responsibility to warn women of the potential danger of sexual harassment on the subway," he told the Global Times newspaper.

He added that there had been an increase in the number of complaints of sexual harassment on the subway.

The majority of tens of thousands of internet users responding to a Sina Weibo survey, however, agreed that women should dress conservatively when taking public transportation.

''Dressing appropriately in public is a matter of public courtesy,'' said one microblog user. ''Asking women to be self-respecting in the way they dress does not equate to justifying sexual harassment.''