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JORDAN: Activists urge action over factory rape claims

Just-Style |  By Leonie Barrie | September, 16 2011 |  Share  | Source Article

 

Allegations of systematic rape by company officials at Jordan's largest garment manufacturer continue to surface as labour rights groups describe a government investigation as a cover-up.

Activists are stepping up their calls on US brands and retailers including Hanes, Target, Macy's and Sears to take action to protect female workers making their clothes. And they are urging consumers not to buy clothing from these firms if it has been made in Jordan.

They also want the US government to take a lead in the investigation since Jordan is allowed to export its sweatshop clothing to the US duty-free under the US-Jordan Free Trade Agreement.

So far five women in two years have come forward to claim they were raped by a manager at the Classic Fashion factory, while further enquiries are said to have indicated widespread and ongoing human rights abuse, labour violations, and sexual assaults.

The Institute for Global Labor and Human Rights says Hanes, Target, Macy's and Sears have all refused to take action until the Jordanian government releases the results of their investigation. But activists see the government's investigation as a "whitewash."

"The Jordanian Government investigation of Classic has been severely flawed by incompetency, a lack of resources and trained investigators, and a deliberate campaign by Classic management to hold the foreign women guest workers in a state of terror and repression," said Charles Kernaghan, director of the activist group.

"Investigators have failed to secure basic documentation related to the rape accusations, have refused to allow victims to be interviewed in safe circumstances by women's advocates, and have kept independent human rights groups out of the investigation.

"This is not a serious investigation, but a whitewash."

Nearly 150,000 people have joined a popular campaign on Change.org calling on Hanes and other companies to take workers' allegations of serial rape at the factory seriously.

 

Campaign: Classic/Jordan-Sweatshop Abuse, Sexual Predators