Gender-based Violence and Discrimination

Photograph of garment workers by ILO in Asia and the Pacific

Globally, over 80 percent of garment workers are women. Women workers face particular challenges in addition to those faced by all workers. In an effort to avoid the costs associated with providing legally required benefits, factory managers often fire workers who become pregnant, sometimes even forcing all female employees to take pregnancy tests before being hired. Even if pregnant women are allowed to keep working, they are often denied benefits required under national law, including maternity leave, child care, and time to breastfeed.

They also face sexual harassment and abuse from managers, and may risk being fired if they respond negatively or report the harassment to superiors. In most factories, since most workers are women, and most managers are men, the verbal abuse that all workers face becomes gendered, with managers shouting insults of a sexual nature at workers.

Gender-based violence does not happen in a vacuum: the risk for gender-based violence is increased in contexts where workers cannot exercise their right to bargain collectively and organize.

The WRC combats gender discrimination and harassment by responding to and documenting violations of women’s rights and pressing brands and factory owners to ensure that their suppliers stop any practices of gender-based discrimination or sexual harassment and abuse.

Related Factory Investigations

Suprema Manufacturing S.A.

The WRC’s assessment at Suprema Manufacturing found violations in the areas of wages and hours, freedom of association, and discrimination of pregnant workers in the hiring process. Read More: WRC Factory Assessment re: Suprema – January 24, 2020

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Thai Garment Export 1/3

At Thai Garment Export, a factory supplying multiple licensees, we have recently seen new examples of the positive long-term impact of a successful WRC intervention that took place more than a decade ago. After the WRC documented retaliation against workers seeking to form a union in 2006–2007, the company complied with and even exceeded the…

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Nien Hsing Textile (Lesotho)

This report details the findings of the WRC concerning gender-based violence and harassment and violations of associational rights at three garment factories in Maseru, Lesotho and the ground-breaking commitments made by the owner of the factories, and the leading apparel brands that produce there, to remedy these violations. Read More: Initial Fact Sheet: Agreements to…

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Delta Apparel Honduras

The WRC investigated a complaint filed by workers at Delta Apparel Honduras (DAH), and found that the practices of DAH violated Honduran law and university codes of conduct in the areas of wages and hours of work, legally mandated benefits, health care, harassment and abuse, gender discrimination, freedom of association, and occupational health and safety.

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JP Textile Ethiopia

JP Textile Ethiopia Plc. (“JP”) is located in Hawassa Industrial Park in the small southern town of Hawassa. The 40,000 square meter facility is owned by JP (Ethiopia) Textile Company, a subsidiary of Wuxi Jinmao, a Chinese conglomerate with factories in China, Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Vietnam. The plant includes the zone’s only textile mill, as…

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MAA Garment and Textiles, Kebire Enterprises

Based in the northern Tigray province in the town of Mekelle, MAA Garment and Textiles (“MAA”) employed 1600 employees as of 2016. As one of Ethiopia’s 17 vertically integrated factories, the Ethiopian-owned facility has the capacity to weave and spin cotton products as well as assemble (cut, make, and trim) garments. Its output includes trousers,…

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Shahi Exports Pvt. Ltd.

An investigation by the WRC found that the management of Shahi Exports Pvt. Ltd.’s (Shahi) Unit 8 factory (Bangalore, India) carried out a campaign of vicious repression and retaliation against workers’ exercise of fundamental labor rights.

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Hansae Vietnam

The Hansae Vietnam factory has been the subject of in-depth investigation and reporting concerning labor rights issues and engagement with Nike and Hansae on their remediation, by both the WRC and the FLA, for the past two years.

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Genesis Apparel

In 2015, the WRC undertook a comprehensive investigation of labor practices at Genesis Apparel, which included offsite interviews with employees and an onsite inspection that was conducted in June 2015. The WRC’s assessment identified a number of violations of Honduran law and university codes of conduct, including noncompliance in the areas of wages and hours…

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Thai Garment Export 5

The WRC’s assessment of Thai Garment Export, which was launched in May 2013, identified violations of Thai law and international labor standards in the following areas: occupational health and safety including excessive heat levels, inadequate sanitary facilities, safe drinking water, excessive noise levels, lighting levels, fire safety; freedom of association; hours of work including involuntary…

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