Combatting sexual harassment in the workplace is a key component of the ILO’s mission to eliminate discrimination at work and an important part of Better Work Jordan’s (BWJ) mandate.
Following the emergence of new evidence on the issue collected throughout 2011, as well as taking into consideration serious allegations of sexual assault and rape in one Jordanian garment factory (read our June 2011 Statement), this report both presents an overview of the response to these allegations and offers a broader picture of sexual harassment in Jordanian garment factories.
The report outlines plans by Better Work Jordan to address sexual harassment through its core services and by working with national stakeholders.
Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, which makes a person feel offended, humiliated and/or intimidated. Sexual harassment can take various forms, ranging from staring, suggestive comments, unwanted touching or hugging, displaying sexually explicit pictures, to behaviour punishable under criminal law such as sexual assault.
Following a more detailed definition of sexual harassment, this report summarizes the various investigations and inquiries conducted into allegations that were made against several managers in Jordan’s largest garment factory. These managers allegedly subjected a large number of women workers to serial sexual assault over a period of five years.
Investigations conducted by the Jordanian government, the Sri Lankan government, the Jordanian National Center for Human Rights and BWJ have been unable to substantiate these allegations, despite extensive efforts to collect information from workers and other sources.
In order to address this issue effectively, BWJ will be working with its stakeholders to implement a specialized programme to combat sexual harassment that will include preventative measures and advocacy in the major industrial zones containing garment factories in Jordan.
This approach will contain the following elements:
♦ Providing specialized advisory services to factories to help employers develop robust and effective policies and procedures to prevent, identify and deal with harassment on the enterprise level.
♦Advocating for strengthened legislation. Providing technical support to the Jordanian government to bring Jordanian labour legislation in line with international labour standards on sexual harassment in the workplace.
♦Raising awareness about sexual harassment. Providing training to both managers
and workers to ensure that they understand the concept of sexual harassment and
the adverse impact of such behaviour on workers and the enterprise.
♦Protection for workers facing sexual harassment. Providing access to independent
counselling and legal services for workers facing sexual harassment through the pilot
workers’ centre to be established in the Al-Hassan Industrial Zone in 2012.