Sexual harassment is sadly the norm for many women garment workers in Cambodia and recognition of gender-based violence in the garment industry is significantly low. For people like Chariya*, a survivor, sexual harassment is too often the norm.
Chariya*is 32 years old and has worked in the Quality Control department for ten years in a garment factory in Cambodia. The factory is one of the five factories where CARE has been implementing the Creating Safe and Respectful Workplaces project funded by Primark. Through CARE’s STOP Sexual Harassment Prevention package, the project builds the capacity of factory management and the Sexual Harassment Prevention Committee to prevent and respond to sexual harassment.
Chariya experienced sexual harassment from a male co-worker who worked in the same line as her and she was unable to avoid him when walking to the toilet during her shift. The harassment involved calling her inappropriate names and unwelcome touches. Chariya shared that not only was this happening to her, but three other women who worked in the same area were having the same experience.
After gaining more awareness of sexual harassment and the Sexual Harassment Prevention Committee, Chariya decided to report the case and seek help to feel safe again.
“I pushed myself to be brave and report it because not only was he touching me, but other women as well. I saw him touch other women without their consent and make sexist jokes, the women seemed so afraid of him. That is why I had to report him,” Chariya says.
“During the sexual harassment prevention training and awareness raising campaign, we were encouraged to make a report if we saw or experienced any forms of sexual harassment from anyone including our intimate partners. Furthermore, the reporter won’t need to bear any penalties or punishment and all reports will be kept confidential.”
The Sexual Harassment Prevention Committee received the report and took intervention immediately, the harasser was moved to another unit and issued with an official warning which resulted in Chariya feeling much safer and happier at work.
“I am very satisfied with the resolution that was provided by the Sexual Harassment Prevention Committee she says. “I am not afraid of him anymore and feel excited about going to work again. In the future, if I see or experience any forms of sexual harassment, I’ll report it to the SHPC, and I will encourage the other women to report the case.”
“I want to eliminate all forms of sexual harassment in the factory. I believe that sexual harassment prevention training is critical to protect women and I urge them to report the case because this will lead to a workplace free from sexual harassment and violence.”
* This name is made up because the survivor wants to hide her identity.