Meet Mr Srun Tha, and Ms Chantheng, a pair committed to eradicating sexual harassment and creating a safer and more empowered workplace.
Mr Srun is a factory human resources and compliance manager and now leads the Sexual Harassment Prevention Committee (SHPC) and Ms Chantheng works in the cutting section and is also a member of the SHPC. They work at Fashiontex Apparel Co., Ltd, a factory located in Kandal Province, around 20 kilometers outside of Phnom Penh which employs around 1200 workers.
Since December 2021, the factory has been participating in the CARE International in Cambodia (CARE) project; Creating safe and respectful workplaces in the garment industry. The objective of this project is to promote harassment-free workplaces in Primark’s supply chain and influence industry change so that all women garment workers feel safe and respected at work.
The factory adopted CARE’s sexual harassment policy and formed the SHPC. Through the project the SHPC committee members participated in a series of training sessions facilitated by CARE, covering Gender Based-Violence (GBV), Sexual Harassment Prevention Package (SHP), and Sexual Harassment Complaint Handling Mechanism.
Mr Srun took on the role as SHPC lead and since undertaking the training has a much deeper understanding of the issues within the factory and the impacts of sexual harassment on both the lives of the workers and the overall factory culture.
Mr Srun explained that in the past, the factory had a lot of sexual harassment cases that went unnoticed, “people would often make sexist jokes and unwelcome touches, and this created a hostile environment in the factory, and we also didn’t have the skills to properly respond and prevent this kind of behavior”.
After participating in the training sessions, the committee members started to think about sexual harassment more critically and their perception on this issue changed a lot, “we have learnt facilitation, observation, and investigation skills, helping us to respond to sexual harassment reports and observations. We can now provide a peaceful resolution for both the harasser and the victim.” Said Mr Srun.
Ms Chantheng is proud to have gained the confidence and skills to facilitate training: “The proudest thing that I have ever done is sharing knowledge and information to workers to prevent and protect them selves from sexual harassment and empower them to feel confident about reporting. My facilitation skills have improved a lot and I am committed to providing sexual harassment training to the new workers and resolving any harassment cases, ensuring survivors are always protected,” Said Ms Chantheng.
Mr Srun outlined how he has seen significant changes in the factory toward workers, sexist jokes aren’t heard anymore, and unwelcome touches have stopped. If incidents occur, they now know how to address them.
“The committee holds regular meetings to discuss how to identify sexual harassment cases. The members are very supportive and active in implementing this project.” Said Mr Srun
Mr Srun said that during his SHP training with the new workers, one of the workers expressed how she was pleased with the training and had never received information on sexual harassment at previous factories.
Mr. Srun confirms that he is committed to continuing this work even though the project will phase out in May 2023. “I’ll keep this sexual harassment policy with me to share with others, even if I stop working in this factory.”