BEIJING—Female factory workers in Guangzhou's industrial zone – the heartland of manufacturing in China – face widespread sexual harassment at work that ranges from being fired for getting pregnant to facing pressure from bosses for sex, according to a newly released survey.
The study, conducted by the Chinese labor group the Sunflower Women Workers Center, found that up to 70 percent of female factory workers surveyed had been sexually harassed in some fashion. The analysis included in-depth interviews with 134 female factory employees in Guangzhou, which has long been the center of China's manufacturing output. The survey did not distinguish in which particular manufacturing industries the women worked, but did say they were mostly women who work on factory lines, not managers. Guangzhou is part of China's largest concentration of mass production of textiles, garments, shoes and accessories.
The study was translated into English and released this week by China Labour Bulletin, a labor rights group based in Hong Kong.
It found that 70 percent of the women reported inappropriate comments, lewd jokes or catcalls at work. Thirty-two percent said they had been touched inappropriately, 25 percent got obscene phone calls and nearly one-third said male coworkers had shown them sexually inappropriate photos. Whistling, shouts, lewd jokes and staring were the most common complaints, but several women reported much more serious harassment as routine, indicating a widespread systemic problem that is rarely corrected or addressed in China's factories.
Labor groups have reported before that sexual harassment is a major concern for young women in factories, where they most often both work and live (typically in separate quarters from their male colleagues). Though Chinese law is written to protection victims of sexual harassment at work, successful cases are rare. The survey, labor groups said, indicates that many women working in factories feel they have no recourse but to take the abuse. In many sectors, particularly the textile and garment manufacturing industry, women staff a higher percentage of factory line positions than men, and are far less represented in management.
Many of the women felt they had no option but to stay on the job, often suffering the harassment in silence. Of the respondents, 43 percent did not report their cases, while 47 percent said they had tried to take action against the harassment. In the end, 15 percent of the women polled left their jobs because of sexual harassment, finding no other solution to the problem.
Among the specific comments, several women said they felt powerless and believed neither factory bosses nor police would act to end the harassment.
"More than two-thirds of interviewees said they were disgusted by and detested their harasser," China Labour Bulletin said in its summary.
"I don't think there will be a quick fix to the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace," said Geoffrey Crothall of the China Labour Bulletin. "But at least people in China are beginning to talk about it now and hopefully, as the seriousness of the issue becomes apparent, employers, the trade union and local government officials will take forceful action to protect the rights of women at work, and male co-workers will begin to act in a more responsible and respectful manner."
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty