Aaron Halegua. Open Democracy. "Sexual harassment at Walmart’s stores and suppliers in China"

Affiliated Scholar Aaron Halegua recently published a piece on sexual harrassment in China via Open Democracy. Below is an excerpt of the piece. You may read the entire article here. 

A coalition of labor groups, including Global Labor Justice and the Asian Floor Wage Alliance, issued a report last month documenting extensive sexual violence and harassment at Walmart apparel supplier factories in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Indonesia. In the study, ‘Gender Based Violence in the Walmart Garment Supply Chain’, women also reported retaliation when they refused sexual advances or complained about the mistreatment. The findings are based on interviews with 250 workers in 60 factories over a six year period.

But what about labor conditions in the world’s largest exporter of apparel and countless other manufactured goods – China? Unfortunately, Walmart’s track record in that country is not much better.

Reports of labor abuses at Walmart’s over 6,000 Chinese suppliers have persisted for well over a decade. For instance, a Washington Post story from 2004 noted child labor and excessive overtime at these factories. A 2006 investigation into a factory producing Christmas tree ornaments for Walmart found hundreds of high school students working seven days a week, fifteen hours a day in noisy spaces lacking air-conditioning for as little as $110 per month.

Labor problems still persist today. China Labor Watch’s 2016 investigation of toy factories producing for Walmart revealed illegal levels of overtime, illegally low wages, and unsafe, toxic working conditions. The same group’s 2017 report on a kitchen appliance manufacturer that sells to Walmart alleges horrific abuses of college student employees that likely amount to forced labor – namely, withholding their identification documents and threatening to withhold wages if they leave.