“If we cannot stop the perception of men who see verbal harassment as a non-sexual harassment acts, we will never be able to make women feel safe at workplace,” said Mrs. Lim Sivgim, HR Manager at Hung Wha (Cambodia) Garment Factory, Phnom Penh, who is one among other factory manager who see sexual harassment as a drawback point of garment sector development in Cambodia.
Sivgim has been working in finance and administration in garment factory since 2005 and in her current roles at her current workplace as the HR Manager, she overlooks human resource department including worker recruitment and contract termination as well as solving the conflict within the factory.
Sivgim said sexual harassment is one among other critical factors to pull the development of garment sector downward because it increase the turnover rate, ruin the reputation of factory, and decrease the productivities of female workers.
She said: “If there is sexual harassment occurred in the factory, women will feel scared and they will never find a place to keep their mind at ease; it will really affect the productivity of the women worker.”
To Sivgim, being quiet about this case is very bad for the victim because they will encourage the penetrator to keep doing so to them, and in some case the victim might choose to commit suicide instead of confront the case. She explained that some penetrators really don’t even know or aware that their actions are considered as sexual harassment activities.
According to Sivgim, there are many factors making women workers feel safe in factory including stability of career and factory policies in synchronized with labour laws – this include the establishment of different committees to support the worker regarding AIDs/HIV, security and sexual harassment.
Sivgim was invited to attend STOP workshop and training including Training of Trainer (TOT) where gender equality and empowerment, and mechanism in eradiating of sexual harassment were provided to her and other participants.
Sivgim now know how to establish the different committees to support the worker regarding AIDs/HIV, security, sexual harassment, and she has been supported by both CARE and factory owner to establish those committees which she is working to make it happen now.
She said: “Fortunately the sexual harassment hasn’t occurred yet in my factory, but we still need the committees to prevent it. I will be able to solve it when it actually occurs.”
CARE is working with garment factories in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam to prevent and respond to sexual harassment in the workplace. Enhancing Women’s Voice to STOP Sexual Harassment (STOP) is supported by the Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, through the Gender Action Platform and the Australian NGO Cooperation Program. The one of its cores is to stop sexual harassment within the targeted garment factories; Hung Wha (Cambodia) where Sivgim is working is one of them.