Hanlee (27) works at a garment factory in Laos. The factory is so far from her hometown that she, like many workers, lives in the factory’s dormitory.
She dreams of one day owning her own sewing shop, but right now has no choice but to continue working in the factory to earn money. Sometimes she feels safe at work, but not always.
“It can be hard to be a woman. At work, sometimes there is sexual harassment like staring and rude comments.”
Hanlee feels most unsafe in the dormitory.
“Once, the HR officer visited a female worker at the dormitory when she was sick and he harassed her,” Hanlee recounts.
Like many women, Hanlee was worried that something like this could happen to her.
“I felt sick … I was scared about staying in the dormitory alone … If I had to stay at the dormitory alone I locked myself in my room.”
When CARE came to Hanlee’s factory to educate staff about the importance of having a harassment-free workplace, management started taking steps to stop sexual harassment from occurring.
“The factory talked about the importance of preventing violence and harassment in the workplace and shared how they will respond to any cases that happen. If someone causes violence, they will be warned or fired,” she says.
“We feel safer and we also feel that management are concerned about us and our safety.”
CARE is working with the garment industry in four countries across South-East Asia to help make workplaces safer for women like Hanlee.
We are also calling for strong global legislation to ensure women are protected from sexual harassment in and around their work.