WRC Updates: Combating Forced Labor and Gender-Based Violence


April 27, 2023

Dear Colleagues,

We write today to update you on several developments in the organization’s work. These updates are not related to specific collegiate cases but have important implications for compliance in the collegiate sector, particularly related to forced labor.  

Scott Nova Testifies to US Senate Committee on Finance
In February, Scott was invited to testify to the Senate Finance Committee at its hearing on fighting forced labor and other topics related to trade laws and enforcement. Scott reviewed the importance and impact of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), noting that “every enforcement action taken by the US government—and every corporate decision, driven by those actions, to shift sourcing away from the Uyghur Region and away from suppliers implicated in Uyghur forced labor—strikes against the impunity both of the Chinese government and of global corporations that have heretofore been complicit in those abuses.” He also emphasized the need for robust enforcement and greater transparency by Customs and Border Protection. To read Scott’s testimony or see video of the hearing, click here.

Jewher Ilham Testifies at European Parliament and Speaks at President Biden’s Summit for Democracy
WRC Forced Labor Project Coordinator Jewher Ilham spoke to a European Parliament session entitled “Care What You Wear, Consume, or Buy” about the need for action to end Uyghur forced labor, highlighting the need for transparency of shipping records in the European Union to increase traceability and accountability. Video from the European Parliament is available here; Jewher’s comments are at timestamps 14:43:45–14:49:20.

Jewher also spoke during President Biden’s Summit for Democracy, sharing her own family’s story and explaining the UFLPA and its impact to thousands of Summit participants around the world. The full Summit for Democracy (Day One) video can be found here; this link takes you straight to Jewher’s comments, which begin at timestamp 1:49:20.

New Report Details Impact of Lesotho Anti-GBVH Program
In 2019, in response to a WRC investigation, landmark agreements were signed by three leading apparel brands, a major supplier of denim, and a coalition of labor unions and women’s rights organizations to prevent and address gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH) in garment factories in Lesotho. These Lesotho Agreements represent the first instance in which brands and their supplier have entered into enforceable agreements with worker representatives to stop sexual harassment, sexual coercion, and other forms of GBVH, and protect workers. The WRC has played a central role throughout the design and implementation of the Agreements and resulting Anti-GBVH Program, serving as a convenor and providing technical support.

A new report details the impact of the Anti-GBVH Program, including dozens of cases in which the Program documented worker rights violations, such as sexual harassment and gendered physical abuse, and ensured remediation—including the removal of perpetrators from the factories covered by the Program.

As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. 


Scott Nova and Jessica Champagne