- Women make up 3/4 of workers worldwide within the garment industry, often in countries where gender discrimination impacts employment discrimination, reported Sourcing Journal on Tuesday.
- Physical and sexual violence against female workers in India is common, with one in 14 experiencing physical abuse at the hands of male supervisors, and one in seven the victim of rape or sexual assault. Turkish factories include acts of sexual assault against child laborers as well.
- Enforcement of the UK Modern Slavery Act has thus far resulted in only 12 responses from global apparel makers. However, since the criteria does not demand gender specific data about female workers within the supply chain, little is accomplished on their behalf.
Supporting human rights is a de facto consideration in first world countries, but across the globe, lagging oversight and enforcement does little to encourage change, especially for at-risk women.
Slavery within the supply chain primarily stems from a lack of transparency. While existing conditions within the country where garments are produced determine the circumstances under which women work, increased awareness on the part of the buyer, rather than the supplier, can have a strong impact on allowable behavior. Companies such as Gap have led the way for others to follow by publishing its country-by-country factory list. Closer attention to fair treatment, particularly in regards to female employees, cannot be overlooked when seeking to enforce human rights.
Ongoing abuses in a working environment can only exist in the short term. Profits resulting from underpayment and other illegalities can quickly grow into fines and lawsuits far outweighing the perceived benefit of mistreatment.