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Initiative to End Gender-based Violence in the Garments Industry

  • Published at 12:42 am August 28th, 2018
Photo: Mahmood Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Prevalence of violence in the workplaces and public spaces

A total 86% of women have said that male supervisors were the main perpetrators of violence or harassment in factories, according to a study on gender-based violence in the garments industry.

Shojag (Awaken), a coalition of BLAST, BRAC, Christian Aid, Naripokkho and SNV, conducted the baseline study, titled “An initiative to end gender-based violence in the garments industry,” with the support of Global Fund for Women.

The project aims to reduce gender-based violence by raising awareness to protect the rights and legal entitlements of female workers.

Shojag organized an event to disseminate the major findings of the baseline study, at AS Mahmud seminar hall of The Daily Star Centre, Dhaka yesterday. 

Naripokkho team leader Maheen Sultan and Renaissance Group Corporate Head of HR Syeda Shaila Ashraf were present at the event. 

Begum Morsheda Hai, assistant secretary of the Law Division at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, was also in attendance as chief guest. 

SNV Netherlands Development Organization Bangladesh Country Director Jason Belanger said: “Any type of violence, mental, verbal or psychological, is a crime and is unacceptable.”

Shojag performed the baseline study between March and June 2018, with 382 female garment workers from the Savar, Ashulia, and Gazipur areas.

The respondents to the survey said they had observed various experiences of violence in their workplaces. Incidents of corporal punishment, such as beating and slapping, were experienced by 25% of the respondents.

Major findings of the study include:

11% women reported feeling insecure in the workplace. 

22% reported that they themselves had faced physical, psychological, or sexual harassment in the garment industry or on the way to or from their workplace.

83% of respondents reported that other women in their area had experienced behavior such as verbal abuse, groping during factory security checks, unwanted touching by male colleagues; intimidation for attempted sexual relations at workplace; corporal punishment in the workplace; sexual harassment in public; rape, and attempted rape. 

67% reported that violence and harassment outside the factory were committed by stalkers, fellow workers and even transport-workers.

A number of women who faced such incidents reported that they did not seek out support. A total 67% said they did not do so due to a low level of trust in prevention bodies, and 22% said they did not report the incidents out of fear of dismissal from their jobs. 

Around 43% of the women workers said they had complained in the past, but never got justice.

Guest of honor Deputy Inspector General Motiur Rahman said: “Almost all factories grant maternity leave with pay for 16 weeks, but do not provide unpaid leave. This results in workers resigning and a shortage of employees.” 

While almost 97% of the women said they have access to separate bathrooms, 64% reported that they do not have access to proper facilities such as day-care centres for their children.

Christian Aid Bangladesh Country Director Shakeb Nabi, and Naripokkho Project Director Rowshon Ara were also present during the event.