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Girls & Women

53% of Garment Workers Face Domestic Violence in Bangladesh

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.

Take Action: Test Your Knowledge: Gender-Based Violence

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."

Read More: Trudeau: Men Must Be Accountable to End Violence Against Women

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

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

Read More: Gender Violence Kills More Women Than Armed Conflict in Much of Asia

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