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26 Jan 2022

Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre (the Modern Slavery PEC), the University of Aberdeen & Traidcraft Exchange UK

Bangladesh: Study finds brands exacerbated, and in some cases caused, the ‘devastating impacts’ of COVID-19 on garment workers

"Impact of Covid-19 on women in the Bangladesh garment industry", 26 January 2022


This research considers the impact of Covid-19 on women working in the ready-made garment industry in Bangladesh. Covid-19 increased vulnerability for workers in this sector and legal protections and grievance mechanisms were limited...

Key findings

  • Covid-19 exacerbated interrelated vulnerabilities in economic security, job security, food security, housing security and health and wellbeing, resulting in women workers struggling to support themselves and their families.
  • These serious disruptions and devastating impacts on workers were exacerbated &, in some cases, directly caused by retailers and brands selling into the UK and other markets in the Global North.
  • There was an increase in sexual and verbal abuse and symbolic violence mainly from line supervisors pushing women to work faster to meet unrealistic production targets.
  • The legal framework regulating the industry fails to meet the requirements of international conventions designed to protect and promote the rights of women in employment that Bangladesh has ratified.
  • Even where the legal framework regulating the industry protects workers, some employers disregard it with impunity.
  • Social compliance auditors do not always include women’s equal rights issues in their audits, and 40% of auditors surveyed do not audit the right to trade union recognition.