Female garment laborers reported sexual harassment and violence, including physical violence, verbal abuse, coercion, threats and retaliation, as well as forced overtime, in connection with their work in factories that serve as suppliers for Walmart. The reports are documented in a report, which builds upon a 2016 report documenting human rights violations in the US discount retail giant’s global supply chain.
The report compiled by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Asia Floor Wage Alliance, CENTRAL Cambodia, and Global Labor Justice, highlights an investigation of gender-based violence in the Walmart garment supplier factories conducted between January 2018 and May 2018 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; and West Java, Indonesia. The report assessed the spectrum of gender based violence and associated risk factors at play in the global apparel manufacturing supply chain and offers the findings to support initiatives incorporating training on workplace violence and promote national and international advocacy. According to the ILO, ‘these are not isolated incidents, gender based violence in the Walmart garment supply chains is a direct result of how Walmart conducts business.’
A daily reality
Tola Meun, Executive Director of CENTRAL, a local Cambodian NGO, said ‘gender-based violence is a daily reality for women garment workers driven to meet unrealistic production targets in Walmart supply chains. Most of these cases are not reported due to fear of retaliation in the workplace.’ The ILO says that it will now convene with ‘trade union leaders from around the world, along with governments and business to set international labor standards on gender based violence and create a global standard protecting women across sectors.’ In addition to forming a labour alliance, the groups are asking that immediate action be taken by Walmart to end the violence and harassment that female garment workers are forced to endure daily.