Sexual harassment and Gender-Based violence is a global issue. It is a human rights violation that is rooted in unequal power and gender relations and disproportionately affects women and girls.
The project, Enhancing Women’s Voice to Stop Sexual Harassment, is working in Cambodia to address sexual harassment in garment factories (STOP). STOP encourages factories to create and adopt internally effective policies to address all forms of sexual harassment. Workplace policies and complaint mechanisms are part of suite of effective measures in preventing sexual harassment. It means employers should have clear obligations that require them to put in place workplace policies prohibiting sexual harassment.
Chakrya is a compliance officer at a factory in Phnom Penh. She has been assigned by HR manager as a focal point in implementing the policy package in a factory which is one of the target garment factories of CARE’s project. It’s been 3 years that factory has cooperated with CARE and received technical supports from the project to stop sexual harassment at work place. Chakrya is also a member of sexual harassment committee in the factory. If there is case of sexual harassment arises, Chakrya needs to ensure the case is resolved and complied with the policy properly.
“I am now confident to use the sexual harassment prevention package provided by CARE Cambodia to prevent and respond to sexual harassment issue in my factory. My factory can protect workers and comply with the auditing and Cambodia law.” Said Chakrya.
“Sexual harassment most of the time happens in the factory among workers and mechanics; the mechanics used to harass workers when they repair machines.” She recalled the past. “The workers who experienced sexual harassment did not know whom they could talk to and think it was just a personal matter. They are afraid of losing their jobs if they report it.”
Working cooperatively with CARE’s STOP project, Chakrya joint series of trainings to build her capacity and confident in implementing the policy. She always encourages workers to report the case they experienced, see or hear in the factory through worker training, awareness raising and other meetings. Workers started to recognize the sexual harassment behaviors and to speak up their concerns.
Pich* is a worker who was harassed by her male co-worker during working time. "I felt humiliated and cannot focus on my work after I was harassed by my co-worker. I decided to report to sexual harassment prevention committee, Chakrya, because I have trust on her," Pich said. “Now I'm happy and feel safe to work in my factory after my case has been resolved. I am really thankful to factory management who helped me to solve my case,” Pich added.
“However, I used to hide sexual harassment cases in the factory to auditor because I was not so confident that the process that we conducted to resolve case is effective or not and we were afraid that the audit finding is recorded in non-compliance. We might face losing our credit,” said Chakrya.
“Now I understand about the effectiveness of complaint handling mechanisms to resolving case that I was trained by CARE. I am confident to disclose the cases to the external auditing process, for instance, ILO auditing. Moreover, the annual case tracking report is really helpful for me to track down the case with confidentiality,” Chakrya ended.
Chakrya will continue her commitment to implementing the sexual harassment prevention policy more effectively even when the CARE’s project phased out from the factory.
*Name has been changed
CARE also work with many other compliant leaders at the garment factory and support many of them like Chakya with support from Australian Government.
CARE’s work on the Gender Based Violence and Dignified Works is supported by the Australian Government and many other private donors.