Up to 70 percent of women workers in Guangzhou’s factories have been sexually harassed, a survey by a labour rights group in the city has found. The problem is so serious that 15 percent of victims felt they had no option but to leave their job to get away from their harasser.
The survey of 134 female employees, predominately production line workers, revealed that up to 70 percent had been subject to offensive comments, lewd jokes or whistling, while 32 percent reported annoying touching. About 25 percent had received obscene phone calls or messages and 30 percent had been shown sexual images. Some women had even been subject to indecent exposure or propositioned by co-workers.
About 43 percent of the respondents said they suffered in silence, while 47 percent said they actively resisted the harassment. However, nearly all respondents agreed that their employer, the trade union and the women’s federation, and even the police would be of little help in addressing the problem.
Eight of the respondents for example stated that: “The factory wouldn’t care and the police simply do not have the time for it.”
More than two thirds of interviewees said they were “disgusted” by and “detested” their harasser. Some comments included: “I want to kill that man and terminate him,” “These sick people are scumbags and psychopaths” and “I’m so scared. I cannot sleep well and I keep having nightmares. I just want to run away.”
More than half of the respondents said they wanted some kind of training to help prevent sexual harassment, and many called for greater understanding and awareness of the issue in society as a whole.
The survey by the Sunflower Women Workers Centre included a list of the legal provisions designed to protect women from sexual harassment but clearly these provisions are ineffective and poorly enforced.