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Jordan: Women garment workers in supply chains of US apparel brands face sexual assault, forced labour and wage theft

“Sexual assault, forced labor, wage theft: garment workers in Jordan suffer for US”, 29 August 2020

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In 2006, the National Labor Committee (NLC) published a 126-page exposé detailing cases of rampant sexual assault, physical abuse, grueling work hours and human trafficking in major Jordanian factories producing apparel for … American retailers…

Last year, in a study conducted by the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) about the working conditions for female Bangladeshi garment workers in Jordan… In one interview, a participant described the physical abuse she had experienced during peak season: “When I made a mistake … the floor-in-charge to complain … got very upset with me and punched me in my face.”…

The report also emphasized the impact these abuses had on the psychological wellbeing of workers. Last year alone, four migrant garment workers in Jordan committed suicide…

The activists who spoke to the Guardian described these abuses as the result of a systemic problem. “The people here, the ones with connections, they don’t joke around with this. And they won’t go easy on the people who bring it up,” …

A former garment worker … told the Guardian about other incidents migrant workers have come to her with; of the crowded, often bedbug-infested workers’ dormitories and the unhygienic food they are provided with…

“I can guarantee you, 1 million per cent, that the brands know about the situation,” said a Workers Center employee. “They read reports about it. They come in and they search and they look at the residences and the food. And it’s never up to par. And even with that, they don’t do anything. They take no action. They just want to run their businesses.”

The issue of American brand accountability in Jordan was also highlighted by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRC) in 2017…

The Guardian reached out to 12 American brands who source, or have sourced, products from the Jordanian garment factories where such labor abuses reportedly occurred. Only three responded, and none addressed the specific allegations. In an email, a spokesperson for Costco declined to comment. In another email, an Under Armour spokesperson said that when they detect issues with partner factories in Jordan, “… we work with the supplier … to ensure that applicable laws and these codes of conduct are complied with and respected.” A representative for Walmart wrote that they hold suppliers accountable “… using independent third parties to evaluate supply chain practices …”.