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From where I stand: A factory worker’s view of sexual harassment

Reaksa, 20, is from a rural district in Cambodia. She moved to the capital city, Phnom Penh, over a year ago to work in a garment factory.

“The men at the factory would stare at me and tell me that I was old enough ‘to be eaten’. I was the newcomer. Walking the small distance from my sewing machine to the toilet used to be very uncomfortable. New women coming to work at the factory often experienced harassment. I felt so angry. I wanted to tell them that their behaviour was wrong. But if I did, worse things could happen."

CARE Cambodia is addressing sexual harassment and gender-based violence with support from the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women. As well as benefiting from the workplace sexual harassment policy put in place by factory management with the support of CARE, Reaksa was able to join CARE’s Sexual Harassment Stops Here! campaign activities.

“The project on sexual harassment gave me courage to take a stand against this violence. My co-workers and I wrote a song about what it really meant for us to feel safe from violence. The song was filmed and made into a music video. We have performed it during the 16 Days of Activism Campaign and at events organised by CARE to raise awareness in our communities,” recounts Reaksa.

“Now things have changed a lot. We have a sexual harassment campaign in the factory, and a workplace policy that lets everyone know that sexual harassment is not acceptable and if people report it, it will be taken seriously. I can take breaks without feeling nervous. I feel safe and happy.”

This story was originally published by UN Women as part of its From Where I Stand editorial series.

CARE’s work to end violence against women in Cambodia is funded by the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women and the Australian Government.

Learn more about the Safe Workplaces, Safe Communities project >

Learn more about the Protections for Marginalised Urban Women project >

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