Research Fellow Shikha Silliman Bhattacharjee was recently published in Labor, Global Supply Chains, and the Garment Industry in South Asia (2020). Read the abstract for her paper below.
Abstract: How do fast fashion production cycles impact labor conditions for women garment workers in Asia? What forms of gender based violence and harassment do women garment workers face at the intersection of supply chain employment practices and patriarchal social norms? How can workers, suppliers, and brands eliminate these forms of violence? From January – May 2018, Asia Floor Wage Alliance and Global Labor Justice researchers documented gender based violence reported by women garment workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. Their accounts include five categories of violence: sexual harm and stigma; gendered industrial discipline practices; physically extractive labor practices—a practice termed mining of the body; unsafe workplaces; and production of insecurity via reliance on contract labor, threats of termination, barriers to freedom of association, and retaliation for reporting. Gender based violence in the garment industry is a predictable outcome in an industry where women workers in subordinate, low-wage employment roles are driven to meet demanding production targets for below living wages in order to keep pace with fast fashion trends. Building upon inroads in brand accountability in the Bangladesh Accord Model, this chapter makes a case for substantive obligations on apparel brands and retailers through binding, contractually enforceable agreements that are developed and implemented in partnership with workers and their unions. In order to address gendered power relationships that subordinate women garment workers, agreements must not only be bargained with trade unions, but should be bargained by women garment worker leaders.