Voicing and Challenging Workplace Sexual Harassment in Bangladesh

Workplace sexual harassment is common in Bangladesh. It refrains women from entering the labour market and
is also a major reason for them to drop out of work. Based on case study research with factory workers in agro-processing firms and domestic workers, this policy brief explains how language, social, and gender norms constrain young women’s voice and agency in response to sexual harassment. It highlights how such norms sustain the normalization of sexual harassment and the existing gaps in formal institutions. The findings presented in this brief are based on qualitative research with live-out domestic and agro-processing factory workers. These workers reported different forms of harassment at the workplace and on the way to work. Workplace harassment for both types of workers includes a wide range of abuse with varying degrees of severity, ranging from jokes and comments to sexual assault. Domestic workers reported a wider range and greater severity of the harassment. Looking or leering or gesturing is the most common form, which all respondents reported to have experienced. The majority of domestic workers had experienced physical abuse at least once and some had experienced incidents of severe physical abuse.

Authors: Sultan, Maheen; Huq, Lopita; Sultana, Asifa, Al Mamun; Saklain
Type: Policy Brief
Year: 2022