For Bangladesh's garment workers, spousal violence often accompanies a paycheck

by Anuradha Nagaraj | @anuranagaraj | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 18 January 2018 11:38 GMT

ARCHIVE PHOTO. A stack of clothes is seen at a garment factory near the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Savar, Bangladesh June 16, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Biraj

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Some men feel humiliated when their wives become the main bread winners, displacing them from their traditional position of dominance in the family

By Anuradha Nagaraj

CHENNAI, India, Jan 18(Thomson Reuters Foundation) - More than half the women employed in Bangladesh's garment industry endure spousal violence, which causes depression and lower productivity at work, researchers said.

Women's employment challenges the role of husbands in a patriarchal society, according to a new study published by the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research in Bangladesh.

"Often, garment workers earn more than their husbands," said Ruchira Tabassum Naved, a co-author, by phone from the capital, Dhaka.

Some men feel humiliated when their wives become the main bread winners, displacing them from their traditional position of dominance in the family.

"All this usually gets expressed through perpetration of violence against these women," Naved told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Thursday. "The urge to grab her savings and assets also result in violence."

Bangladesh's garment sector, worth about $28 billion per year, employs 4 million people, nearly 80 per cent of them women.

The study found that 53 percent of female garment workers had been subjected to spousal violence during the previous year, compared to a national average of 27 percent. Of those, 43 percent reported suffering from depression.

Assaults against female garment workers also take a financial toll on the industry.

"Violence increases work-related stress which in turn leads to the development of depression which in many cases, reduces productivity," said the study.

"Thus, violence incurs cost at individual, family and the garment sector levels."

Physical injuries may also affect a worker's productivity. The study found that female garment workers suffered injuries including broken ribs and blindness.

(Reporting by Anuradha Nagaraj, Editing by Jared Ferrie; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)

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