Around 83% of women working in Bangladesh’s garment industry are subject to sexual harassment in factories, a new study into gender-based violence in the country’s clothing industry has found.

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’ in March, with the support of Global Fund for Women.

Presented at a campaign ceremony earlier this week, the study carried out with 382 female garment workers from the Savar, Ashulia, and Gazipur areas found around 22% said they had been faced with physical, mental and sexual harassment inside or outside of the factory, while 66% said they hadn’t reported it due to them not believing a trial would take place.

Meanwhile, around 11% feel insecure in their workplace, while 83% said other women in their area were subjected to verbal abuse, being touched inappropriately during factory security checks, unwanted touching by a male colleague, or intimidation for attempted sexual relations at work. Around 68% said there was no effective sexual prevention committee in place at work.

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

While 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.”

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The Shojag Coalition is running a two-and-a-half-year project (September 2017-February 2020) financed by the Global Fund for Women to reduce gender-based violence in the garment industry. The coalition consists of five organisations – Naripokkho, Christian Aid, BRAC, Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and SNV, working together to reduce gender-based violence in the garment industry by raising awareness, strengthening the capacity of accountable private and public bodies, protecting the rights and legal entitlements of female workers and engaging factories towards promoting systemic changes across the garment sector.