The vast majority of Brazilian textile and shoe factory workers who took part in a recent study say they have experienced some form of violence at work, often gender-based violence and harassment—to the extent that “for many women, work is synonymous with suffering”.

According to the National Confederation of Apparel Workers (CNTRV) president Francisca Trajano, “the most revealing thing this study [Promoting Human Rights and Strengthening Trade Union Action and Equality in the Brazilian Clothing Sector, currently only available in Portuguese] uncovered is the extent of violence in the workplace. I am especially surprised by the extent of sexual harassment by supervisors.”

Some 246 women workers took part in either regional workshops or guided discussions between March and June as part of an Instituto Observatorio Social study of textile and shoe workers in six cities: Colatina, Fortaleza, Ipirá, Pouso Alegre, Sapiranga, Sorocaba, and São Paulo.