Let’s put a stop to harassment, abuse and violence
Abuse isn’t in any woman’s job description
Nearly 1 in 3 women workers experience violence and harassment in many of the overseas factories making clothes to be sold on UK high streets.
Women like Chea [not her real name], a garment worker in Cambodia, who dreaded going to work because of the regular abuse she faced:
The men at the factory would stare at me and tell me that I was old enough ‘to be eaten’... Walking the small distance from my sewing machine to the toilet used to be very uncomfortable.
Or another worker at a garment factory in Cambodia who told us:
Sometimes, of course I think about not going to work any more, but then I think about my family and I know I cannot quit.
It’s time for this to end
CARE International wants to see the creation of new international standards which would cut out harassment, abuse and violence in the workplace – and there is currently a rare opportunity to make this happen.
The ILO (International Labour Organisation) is considering creating a new Convention – a global agreement for employers, governments and trade unions – to end workplace harassment, abuse and violence.
UK fashion companies can help turn this into a reality. We believe they have a responsibility to act.
So we’re asking the head of the UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT) – a trade body representing high street fashion brands and retailers – to make a public statement in support of the new Convention.
As a potential customer of clothing brands in the UK, your voice is really powerful.
And if UK companies respond to your call and show their support publicly, a new ILO Convention is more likely to be created.
This could make a huge difference to ending harassment and abuse against women at work.
“When clothes are cheap, women are cheap.”
Nazma Akter, a trade unionist, activist and women’s leader from Bangladesh, spoke at the #March4Women rally at Trafalgar Square on 4 March 2018. She said: “I started in a garment factory when I was 11 years old.”
While I was making your dresses, I did not go to school; I did not get an education. I worked my hours in a sweatshop and I made 2 pounds a month.
“We faced a lot of challenges when I was young – long hours, often not paid on time, verbal and physical harassment.
“For many years now I have been fighting. Still conditions are very hard for us.”
When clothes are cheap, women are cheap. Nothing comes for free in this world. Nothing is a discount. Women pay with their blood and their sweat.
“To make change, we need solidarity. We need companies and consumers to listen to women’s voices, listen to women’s demands and respect them.”
Find out more
- Read more about the ILO Convention
- Read CARE’s policy brief on Ending violence and harassment against women and men in the world of work