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Study: 90% of female RMG workers face mental torture in the workplace

  • Published at 11:12 am June 25th, 2019
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File Photo: Female RMG workers Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Nagorik Uddyog and the Bangladesh Labour Rights Forum have found this in a study

Around 90% of female readymade garment (RMG) workers face various kinds of mental torture at their workplaces, according to a recent study by Nagorik Uddyog and Bangladesh Labour Rights Forum.

In addition, 51% of female RMG workers face physical harassment, while 43% encounter sexual harassment, the study said.

The findings of the study were disclosed at a program in Dhaka's CIRDAP auditorium on Tuesday. A total of 173 female RMG workers from Narayanganj and different parts of the capital city, including Mirpur, Malibagh and Rampura, were surveyed for the report.

Green Bangla Garment Workers Federation leader Sumi Akter said trade unions should represent workers, but in reality, they represent the owners.

“If I wear nice clothes to work, then my male coworkers make indecent comments. On the other hand, if I wear loose or unattractive clothing, then my supervisors criticize me and ask why I dress like an old woman,” she said.

RMG worker Khadiza Rahman said her supervisors scold and mentally torture her if she needs to use the restroom frequently when she is menstruating.

The study found that 17% of female RMG workers are sexually harassed by line supervisors, floor supervisors, or senior officials, while 77% face harassment on their way to work. Younger and lower ranking workers are more likely to be targeted.

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Rubana Huq told Dhaka Tribune it was not enough to just focus on harassment women face at the workplace.

“Women are facing some sort of mental torture at home, the workplace, and everywhere,” she said. 

Common forms of harassment that the women face include groping, being photographed without consent, and indecent comments. About 68% of the victims said they do not take action over the harassment as they fear it would cause them more trouble.

While presenting the findings, Nagorik Uddyog Policy and Advocacy Coordinator Monjurul Islam said that most RMG workers do not even realize that they are being harassed.  

He recommended that every factory implement a protection committee and mandatory trade union. 

Razekuzzan Ratan, general secretary of Bangladesh Samajtantrik Sramik Front, said that RMG workers must unite and rally against harassers in their residential areas.

Ruhin Hossain Prince, central committee leader of the Communist Party of Bangladesh, said it is not just a fight for RMG workers, and everyone should become involved. 

Naripokkho Project Director Rowshan Ara, Bangladesh Labour Rights Forum Convener Abul Hossain, and Nagorik Uddyog Executive Director Zakir Hossain, among others, also addressed the program.