A study by the Fair Wear Foundation and Care International found that female factory workers in Vietnam face systemic sexual harassment and violence at work. Approximately 2 million people are employed in Vietnam’s garment sector, with some factories having as many as 20,000 workers. More than 80% of the workers are women.
Participants interviewed as part of the study reported being exposed to physical violence, sexual jokes, obscene gestures, and offensive emails, among other abuses. Excessive overtime was also uncovered. The study found violence and harassment had a negative impact on workers’ health and wellbeing, as well as the organization’s productivity, competitiveness and reputation.
The study also found that when clear complaint procedures were in place, women reported significantly lower levels of abuse, 25% compared with 58.7%.
“Anonymous reporting options are critical in factory settings, which often operate in areas with few worker rights and protections,” explains Elena Fanjul-Debnam, Head of Labor Solutions. “Workers can face serious retribution from their employers, as well as family members if they are seen making complaints.”
In 2018, Labor Solutions launched WOVO, a worker voice and wellbeing solution that allows workers to report concerns anonymously using mobile phone technology. The tool also offers workers access to personal and professional e-learning, as well as confidential wellbeing support.