Human Rights Watch: Audits insufficient to address rife sexual harassment in garment industry; Urges brands to take action

Author: Human Rights Watch, Published on: 14 February 2019

"Combating Sexual Harassment in the Garment Industry", 12 February 2019

...sexual harassment is... a pervasive and serious problem in garment factories... 59 countries do not have any specific legal remedies for sexual harassment at work....

...many brands rely heavily on social audits to monitor conditions in the factories...These, however, are not equipped to capture and address sexual harassment or other forms of gender-based violence at work... Social audits are not designed to provide a safe environment to victims who experience sexual harassment....a majority of the audits reviewed by Human Rights Watch... barely included any discussion of the issue...

Recommendations to Global Apparel and Footwear Companies

  • Publicly support the drive towards a binding ILO convention to tackle violence and harassment at work.
  • Publish the company’s global factory lists in accordance with the Transparency Pledge.
  • Design brand-level grievance redress mechanisms with the participation of workers, unions, and labor advocates, ensuring that these mechanisms are also equipped to tackle sexual harassment at work.
  • Carry out periodic studies to examine gender-based violence and harassment at work in every production country...
  • Take steps to examine and redress brands’ purchasing practices to prevent and mitigate risks of abusive practices in the supply chain. In particular, examine all practices that reduce a factory’s time available for bulk production...

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