Workplace violence against women is increasingly acknowledged as a serious issue that deserves attention and resources to combat it. Fair Wear Foundation has identified some of the most important risks that affect women, and particularly women garment workers, and that can lead to workplace violence.


FAQ on gender-based violence

Date: 04/02/2016

What do we talk about when we talk about Violence against Women?

One of the main problems when talking about gender-based violence is that we tend to think of violence as something very specific, like hitting someone. But violence against women can take many forms. Here are the most frequently asked questions about gender-based violence, violence against women, and the work of FWF on these topics. Read more

World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

Date: 30/07/2018

30 July 2018

All Fair Wear Foundation member brands commit to the FWF 8 labour standards which includes all work being freely chosen: no forced or bonded labour, and no child labour in their production factories.

Today, 30 July, is World Day Against Human Trafficking. Human trafficking is a form of exploitation that frequently intersects with child labour, forced labour, and bonded labour. In 2016, the ILO estimated that 40 million people were victims of modern slavery, approximately 25 million of which were victims of forced labour. They further estimate that 71% of modern slavery victims are women and girls.

Forced labour may be present in the garment industry, for example in informal work environments—whereby workers are not protected by legal and regulatory frameworks—or in labour intensive parts of the garment supply chain.  According to the Global Slavery Index 2018, many of the production countries where FWF brands source exhibit risk factors for modern slavery within the population, particularly amongst marginalised groups.

For example, a form of forced labour in India known as the Sumangali Scheme recruits young women and girls, typically from a lower caste, to work in spinning factories on the promise of a lump sum payment at the end of three years, which is meant to be used to cover their wedding expenses. This system can lead to child labour, limited freedom of movement, excessive working hours and lack of adequate leave. Women may be unable to stop working at the factory before the end of three years, as they risk forfeiting their pay.

To learn more about the Sumangali Scheme and Bonded Labour in India, see this FWF report.

Breaking the Silence

Date: 01/05/2018

This International Worker’s Day Fair Wear Foundation releases its report ‘Breaking the Silence: The FWF Violence and Harassment Prevention Programme.’

Violence and harassment against women and men is a widespread issue in the world of work that affects all occupations and sectors. It is especially prevalent in the garment industry, which employs a high number of women, often in lower-paid, lower-power positions.

‘A large majority of women garment workers have faced some kind of harassment,’ Suhasini Singh, FWF India country representative.

FWF, recognising the importance of tackling this issue at the factory level, launched the FWF Violence and Harassment Prevention Programme in 2012. The aim of the Programme is to establish effective systems to address and prevent violence and harassment against women and men in the world of work.

The workers, supervisors and management receive training on gender-based violence, the local legal framework, and on workplace harassment committees. Often the issues being covered are new to the participants.

‘Most only think of a sexual offence or brutal physical violence. They don’t see verbal abuse or shouting as harassment or violence,’ Ambalika Roy, a FWF trainer with MARG.

The training concludes with the establishment of a functioning workplace harassment committee. In order to ensure these committees are functional, FWF works with them for at least a year empowering the committee members and entrenching the committee in the workplace culture.

Brands too have a role in preventing and addressing violence and harassment. Production pressure—including price pressure and lead time pressure in factories—is linked to violence and harassment

‘Brands can influence the production pressure at the factory. If production pressure continues to be unreasonably high, harassment and violence at work cannot be tackled.’ Stephanie Karl, FWF verification officer

The programme has been implemented in 78 factories across Bangladesh and India, training hundreds of supervisors and managers, and thousands of workers. But the results can be seen beyond the numbers.

The most notable achievement of the Programme so far is that workers have started to speak up. They are more confident and feel empowered. You can see it in their faces.’ Bablur Rahman, FWF Bangladesh representative

To learn more, download the full report here.

Tunisian parliament takes milestone step to address violence against women

Date: 03/08/2017

In a landmark decision, Tunisia has approved comprehensive legislation to end ‘all violence against women’. The new law, which was unanimously adopted by the parliament on 26 July, aims to address ‘any physical, moral, sexual or economic aggression’. The EU has applauded the bill, commenting that this is a ‘crucial step towards absolute respect for human rights and equal opportunities’.

The legislation introduces sweeping reforms that will make it easier to prosecute domestic abuse and it provides for judicial and psychological assistance to victims. It imposes stiffer penalties for sexual abuse in the public sphere, including the workplace. The law also expands the definitions of gender-based violence to include psychological and economic abuse, both in the public and the domestic spheres. Read more

FWF participates on 20th anniversary of UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women

Date: 09/05/2016

On 25 April, FWF was pleased to participate in an Amsterdam celebration of the 20th anniversary of the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women. Since its founding, the Trust Fund has funded 426 initiatives in 136 countries and territories, including the first phase of FWF’s groundbreaking pilot work on preventing violence against women in apparel factories. Read more

Different manifestations of violence against women

Date: 03/03/2016

Jo Morris explains violence against women and girls around the world, and the sexual and reproductive health consequences.

Violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world. It knows no social, economic or national boundaries. Worldwide, the UN estimates one in three women will experience physical or sexual violence or abuse in her lifetime because she is a woman. Violence against women is often described as a ‘global epidemic’ by international agencies.

Read more

Toilets and other necessities: A factory case

Date: 19/02/2016

At a factory in Bangladesh, there are only 5 toilets. These must be shared by the roughly 1120 women who work on the factory floor every day.  The problem is made worse by the fact that they get limited breaks during the working hours. Very often, there is a long line of women who are waiting to use the toilets. They have to wait, and the factory loses valuable production time. Read more

Learning experiences on the factory floor

Date: 16/02/2016

A factory manager in Bangladesh shares his experience with FWF’s Violence Prevention programme.


A survey on GBV at the workplace in Bangladesh garment factories

Date: 15/02/2016

Women’s Safety at Work the widespread problem of gender-based violence (GBV) in garment factories. Fair Wear Foundation has worked together with brands and factories to get solid information on the extent and scope of the problem in different countries, as well as on how much workers know about their rights. Read more

Labour rights awareness among female garment workers in Bangladesh

Date: 09/02/2016

Fair Wear Foundation’s  8 Labour Standards form the basis for its work with members, factories, and workers. When workers are not aware of their rights, they are not empowered to claim them. Between 2012-2013, FWF conducted a survey among women workers in garment factories in Bangladesh. Read more