A large number of female garment workers in the country face various types of sexual and psychological harassments in their everyday life – particularly in public transports, finds a study.
Despite being severely distressed, most of them do not protest the incidents fearing social stigma and losing their jobs instead of getting a solution, the study says.
Two non-government organisations -- Nagorik Uddyog and Bangladesh Labour Rights Forum -- conducted the study between April and June 2018, by surveying 173 garment workers -- mostly women -- from different areas of Dhaka, Narayanganj and Gazipur.
The findings were unveiled at a seminar at Cirdap auditorium yesterday.
The survey found about 77 percent of the garment workers are sexually harassed in public transports. Nearly half of them go through unwanted physical contact almost on a daily basis.
Male passengers and transport operators are responsible for such offences the most, said the study.
Besides, some 39 percent of the workers told researchers they do not feel safe at their workplaces, mostly because of fearing to be harassed sexually by male officials and colleagues, according to the findings.
Majority of them reported psychological harassment -- like use of swear words and vulgar comments. A large segment of them alleged sexual harassment and a few reported physical torture -- like slapping and pushing.
The study also found that female workers are harassed by their landlords and shopkeepers in their localities as well.
Monjurul Islam, one of the researchers, said negative mindset of the male counterparts towards the workers, culture of impunity and lack of seriousness of the factory authorities and the government are the major reasons behind the current situation.
“Many men in our society still think poorly of garment workers, although they have a significant contribution to our economy,” Monjurul, a coordinator of Nagorik Uddyog, told this newspaper.
“Besides, incidents of harassment have become normal over the years, as there is no remedy or punishment for those,” he added.
Citing the study, Monjurul suggested that the government strictly implement the establishment of anti-sexual harassment cell at all garment factories.
He suggested formulation of trade unions, ensuring job security of workers and increasing government monitoring.
Abul Hossain, convenor of Bangladesh Labour Rights Forum; Zakir Hossain, executive director of Nagorik Uddyog; Rajekuzzaman Ratan, general secretary of Samajtantrik Sramik Front; and Rowshon Ara, a project director of Naripokkho; also spoke at the event.