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Dhaka Tribune

Survey: Most women face sexual harassment at work

All the respondents of the survey said they had faced some sort of sexual harassment at work in the course of the on-going pandemic

Update : 29 Aug 2020, 08:47 PM

A majority of women employed in the formal sector have been subjected to some form of sexual harassment at the workplace during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent survey.

The survey was jointly conducted by the National Girlchild Advocacy Forum, Plan Bangladesh and Girls Advocacy Alliance from March 8 to June 30. The results were disclosed at an online meeting, titled “Exploring Sexual Harassment Condition of Working Women in Formal Sector in Covid-19 Situation,” on Saturday.

A total of 135 women working in Dhaka, Barisal, Khulna, Mymensingh, Rajshahi and Rangpur divisions participated in the survey. All the respondents said they had faced some sort of sexual harassment at work in the course of the on-going pandemic.

The respondents were aged 19-50 years old. Among them, 14.81% are employed in the health sector, 59.26% in the readymade garment (RMG) sector, 8.89% in the private sector, 3.7% each in education and banking, 6.67% in NGOs, and 1.48% each in the law enforcement and legal sectors.

Nasima Akhter Jolly, secretary of National Girlchild Advocacy Forum, told Dhaka Tribune that the health workers who had reported being victims of sexual harassment included doctors.

The respondents said they had to deal with unwanted sexual advances, inappropriate behaviour (in person, via text and phone calls), suggestive comments and sexual abuse at the workplace, mostly from their male colleagues, supervisors, employers and managers.

Altogether 22.96% said they had faced sexual harassment once, 41.48% said it had been twice or thrice, 25.93% mentioned four to five times, and 8.89% said they had faced sexual harassment six to 10 times during the period of the survey.

Addressing the online meeting, Md Fazle Rabbi Miah, deputy speaker of parliament, said the government alone could not end workplace harassment, adding that it was a fight that should be fought in unison.

“We need to think together, sit together and achieve together,” he said, stressing the importance of a collaborative approach to ending workplace sexual harassment in the formal sector.

He also said it was good that more women were speaking out against harassment, paving the way for policymakers to take action. 

Shamsul Haque Tuku, MP, President of the Parliamentary Caucus on Child Rights, said sexual harassment in the formal sector was a global problem and the best way to deal with it was to learn from the lessons of the past.  

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