Let’s put a stop to harassment, abuse and violence

A garment worker at a factory in Cambodia

Abuse isn’t in any woman’s job description

CARE International wants to see the creation of new international standards which would cut out harassment, abuse and violence in the workplace – and there is currently a rare opportunity to make this happen.

The ILO (International Labour Organisation) is considering creating a new Convention – a global agreement for employers, governments and trade unions – to end workplace harassment, abuse and violence.

The UK fashion industry supports the Convention

Thank you – 27,387 of you signed our letter calling on UK fashion brands to protect the women who make our clothes.

On Wednesday 11th April we handed your letter to UK Fashion and Textiles Association (UKFT) chief executive Adam Mansell.

The amazing news? He and the UKFT will alert 2,000 companies about the importance of backing a strong Convention to protect female garment workers from violence and abuse, and urge the UK’s largest retail consortium to get behind it.

The UK government must act now

When the International Labour Conference meets in Geneva on 28th May, they will decide if there is enough support for the Convention.

Alok Sharma, the UK Minister for Employment, will be representing the UK government and we need him to support the new law and make sure it is strong and effective.

Thank you – 15,546 of you signed our petition to Alok Sharma calling on the UK government to support a strong Convention that is:

  • legally binding
  • explicitly includes the most vulnerable workers such as unpaid care workers, domestic workers, workers in politics, sex workers
  • include reference to the UN Guiding Principles on business and human rights to ensure companies adhere to standards throughout their supply chains

We delivered the petition to the UK government on 21st May.

Why we need to keep up the pressure

Nearly 1 in 3 women workers experience violence and harassment in many of the overseas factories making clothes to be sold on UK high streets.

Women like Chea [not her real name], a garment worker in Cambodia, who dreaded going to work because of the regular abuse she faced:

The men at the factory would stare at me and tell me that I was old enough ‘to be eaten’... Walking the small distance from my sewing machine to the toilet used to be very uncomfortable.

Or another worker at a garment factory in Cambodia who told us:

Sometimes, of course I think about not going to work any more, but then I think about my family and I know I cannot quit.

A woman at a garment factory in Bangladesh
A woman at a garment factory in Gazipur, Bangladesh

“When clothes are cheap, women are cheap.”

Nazma Akter, a trade unionist, activist and women’s leader from Bangladesh, spoke at the #March4Women rally at Trafalgar Square on 4 March 2018. She said: “​I started in a garment factory when I was 11 years old.”​

While I was making your dresses, I did not go to school; I did not get an education. I worked my hours in a sweatshop and I made 2 pounds a month.

“We faced a lot of challenges when I was young – long hours, often not paid on time, verbal and physical harassment.

“For many years now I have been fighting. Still conditions are very hard for us.”

When clothes are cheap, women are cheap. Nothing comes for free in this world. Nothing is a discount. Women pay with their blood and their sweat.

“To make change, we need solidarity. We need companies and consumers to listen to women’s voices, listen to women’s demands and respect them.”

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