Giang Vu (CARE)
(The story was published in The Sai Gon Times on 10 April 2018)
Mr Binh has not forgotten his early days in Japan almost a decade ago when he just arrived here for higher studies. He remembers vividly the three things the Japanese taught him and his study colleagues in those first days. One of them was about preventing and dealing with sexual harassment(1).
Mr Nguyen Van Binh, currently Deputy Director General, Department of Legal Affairs (Ministry of Labour, War invalids and Social Affairs), shared this story at the workshop on prevention and response to sexual harassment in garment factories co-organised by CARE International in Vietnam, Vietnam General Confederation of Labour, and the Center for Development and Integration (CDI) in Ha Noi on 27 March, 2018. Long dedicated to fighting gender-based discrimination in general and preventing/handling sexual harassment in particular, he must admit that while sexual harassment is a universal issue, many countries, including Vietnam, have overlooked this issue.
Mr. Nguyen Van Binh speaking at a CARE’s workshop late March 2018 on sexual harassment prevention & response – @2018 CARE in Vietnam
An yet, we have not yet witnessed positive signals from the practical use of the Code of Conduct on Sexual Harassment in the workplace that was issued in 2015 by the Ministry of Labour, the Invalids and Social Affairs, and Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2015. According to a CARE research in 2017 conducted by Duane Morris law firm, the state of compliance and application of the Code can be divided into three groups. Group 1 consists of garment factories who are usually requested by international brands to refer to the Code of Conduct of these brands themselves; Group 2 includes factories that just copy and paste the whole Code of Conduct from Vietnam’s Labour Code to their internal policy; and the final one who “does nothing”.
Joint efforts are required to ensure sexual harassment-free workspace – @CARE Cambodia
To change the status quo, it is obvious that multiple measures should be introduced through joint efforts of lawmakers, policy makers, employers, workers’ union, international and local organisations as well as the media.
If Vietnam is to go further and successfully into the globalisation competition, its factories have to be bolder in cutting costs and enhancing productivity. That is why the sooner the sexual harassment problem is addressed, the earlier the employers can earn benefits and Vietnam get closer to fulfilling its global and domestic commitments on protecting basic human rights.
Learn more about the project Enhancing Women’s Voice to Stop Sexual Harassment here.