There Is No #MeToo Movement For Female Garment Workers

by: Well Made Clothes Staff | 7 months ago | News

Image: female garment workers in Bangladesh. Image source

The #metoo movement has made some great strides over recent months in the battle against sexual harassment and assault. But there is one important group of women that the #metoo movement has largely overlooked. And that is female garment workers – many of whom must pay the price for society’s obsession with low cost fast fashion.

Now a global coalition of trade unions, workers’ rights groups and human rights organisations is looking to do something about this discrepancy. The International Labour Organization (“ILO”), Asia Floor Wage Alliance, CENTRAL Cambodia, and Global Labor Justice last week released “a groundbreaking factory level research report” detailing gender-based violence in Walmart’s Asian garment supply chain.

According to The Fashion Law, this report was conducted at Walmart garment supplier factories between January 2018 and May 2018 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Phnom Penh, Cambodia and West Java, Indonesia. And it details sexual harassment and violence reported by female garment labourers. These abuses include the likes of physical violence, verbal abuse, coercion, threats and retaliation, as well as forced overtime.

Which are all in connection with the work these women have been doing in supplier factories for Walmart. And, according to the ILO, “these are not isolated incidents, gender based violence in the Walmart garment supply chains is a direct result of how Walmart conducts business.” So, in addition to their impending alliance, these groups are asking for the retailer to take immediate action and end the harassment of female garment workers.

Sadly, though, it is not just Walmart whose supply chain is fraught with human rights violations. As the Executive Director of CENTRAL – a local Cambodian NGO aimed at ensuring transparent and accountable governance for labor and human rights – Tola Meun explains, “gender based violence is a daily reality for women garment workers driven to meet unrealistic production targets”.

This is true in Walmart supply chains, as it is in many other environments characterised by low costs and fast turnaround times. So, until we really do have a #metoo movement for female garment workers, it’s important for us to fight back against fast fashion and demand to know from brands: who made my clothes?

Via The Fashion Law


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