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DHAKA – Human rights violations, gender-based wage discrimination, sexual harassment and other gender-based violence remain endemic in Bangladesh’s ready-made garment (RMG) industry, claims new research. The research argues that the treatment of garment workers remains discriminatory and lacking any conformity with existing laws, resulting in the violation of their rights – this despite the fact that the global spotlight has been on the RMG industry in Bangladesh since the Rana Plaza tragedy in 2013.

The report, which also looks at the country’s construction sector, was produced by the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and Odhika, a Bangladesh-based human rights NGO. It calls for greater respect for the rights of women workers in the RMG sector via the revision of national labour laws and the ratification of further ILO conventions.

Based on field visits to RMG factories, focus group discussions with workers, and individual interviews with 100 women workers in the RMG and construction sectors, the report highlights widespread and systematic human rights violations, including: gender-based wage discrimination; sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence (GBV); dangerous workplaces; insufficient provision of healthcare and sanitation; and child labour.

“These human rights violations in the workplace, in turn, perpetuate and entrench widespread inequality and discrimination of women in Bangladeshi society,” claims the research.

“Despite significant global attention on the plight of garment factory workers and a series of legislative reforms triggered by the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster, we are concerned that the situation on the ground has not improved for most women workers. Legislative changes must be accompanied by greater monitoring of worksites, protection measures, and an end to impunity for employers that fail to respect worker rights,” said Guissou Jahangiri, FIDH vice president.

FIDH and Odhikar have now called on the government of Bangladesh to strengthen the legislative and policy framework for worker rights in the RMG and construction sectors and, most importantly, to ensure its implementation to guarantee the full respect of women’s rights in the workplace. The two organisations have also called on the private sector and the international community to support initiatives aimed at ensuring the respects of the rights of women in the workplace in Bangladesh.

Full report: https://www.fidh.org/IMG/pdf/bangladesh753ang.pdf

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