Approximately 80% of garment workers are women. This is not by chance, but the result of gender discrimination which runs through the industry. Women are desirable in the garment industry because employers take advantage of cultural stereotypes – to which women are often obliged to adhere – that portrays women as passive and flexible.
When women fight back, they are ignored, repressed and in some cases violently attacked and killed. State violence against garment workers, in Cambodia in particular has yielded some horrific outcomes. On December 24th 2013 workers took strike action to demand an increase in the the minimum wage to USD 160 per month. As protests developed, the police and military responded with violence on January 2 and 3, killing at least 4 people and injuring almost 40. Gender-based violence is commonplace in factories with women reporting instances of sexual and violent abuses. Women are often afraid to speak out due to a culture which blames the victim for this violence