Staff Reporter: A baseline study was carried out between March and June 2018 in which 382 female garment workers of 8 factories from Savar, Ashulia and Gazipur were interviewed. Eleven percent from that number feels insecure in their workplace. It is one of the major findings of the baseline study unfolded in a dissemination program titled ‘Situation of Gender-based Violence in the Garments Industry’ at A. S Mahmud Seminar Hall, The Daily Star Center, Dhaka yesterday.
The program was organized by Shojag, a coalition consisting of five organizations- Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), BRAC, Christian Aid, Naripokkho and SNV Netherlands Development Organization. This program is a part under Shojag’s ‘An Initiative to End Gender-Based Violence (GVB) in the garments industry’ project funded by Global Fund for Women.
The study, conducted by Development Research Initiative (DRI) to 8 factories by focus discussions with half of which Shojag has MoU agreement to work together, shows 83% of the respondents reported that the other women in their area encountered abusive verbal reprimands, groping while queuing for factory security checks, unwanted touching by male colleagues, intimidation for attempted sexual relations in the workplace, corporal punishment in the workplace, sexual harassment in public and rape or attempted rape. 22% reported that they themselves had faced physical, psychological, sexual harassment in the garment industry or on the way to industry or on the way to home.
In addition, 86% of the respondents reported that inside the factories male supervisors were the main perpetrators of violence or harassment while outside the factories, 76% respondents stated, it is stalkers (76%), fellow workers (50%) and transport workers (36%) who commit these violence and harassments.
About having awareness of sexual harassment complaint committee in the workplace 31.7% respondents said that there was such committee in place and effective as well, 27.7% was not aware of such committee and 31.7% respondents mentioned that there was no committee.
Anchored by Mr. Shakeb Nabi, Country Director of Christian Aid Bangladesh, Dr. Md. Matiur Rahman, Joint Inspector General (Health)-DIFE, Begum Morsheda Hai, Assistant Secretary-Law Division, Ministry of Labor & Employment, Ms. Maheen Sultan, Team Leader & Member- Naripokkho, Ms. Rowshon Ara, Project Director & Member- Naripokkho, Mr. Jason Belanger, Country Director-SNV Netherlands Development Organization, Syeda Shaila Ashraf, Corporate Head of HR- Renaissance Group, Ms. Mahbuba Akter, Deputy Director, Advocacy and Communication- BLAST were presents as the discussants and some over hundred delegates coming from Ministries, NGOs, Trade Unions, Courts, Garments factories, medias were also joined the program.
The baseline study, presented by Ms. Maheen Sultan, recommended both to the government and employers to get rid of this curse by ensuring implementation of 2009 and 2011 High Court Directives on Sexual Harassment in RMG Industries, activating complaint mechanisms and timely monitoring it, taking measures to increase safety and security of the workers on roads and public transports, increasing awareness among factory management and workers.
At the end of the program Mr. Jason Belanger delivered vote of thanks and gratitude to all the attendees for making the event successful.