Innovations and Reproductions in Cultures and Societies
(IRICS) Vienna, 9 - 11 december 2005

<< Models of Victimization in Contemporary Cultures

Empowerment Myth and Models of Recurring Victimization of Fashion-Workers in Bangladesh

Helal Mouhidin (University of Chittagong, Bangladesh)



The globalization wave, availability of women's "cheap" labour and national thirst for foreign revenue earning resulted in the emergence of an export-oriented assembling-manufacturing garment sector in Bangladesh. This study explores how globalization has created numerous domestic models of victimization by empowerment of women wageworkers. The victimization starts through replacement of women workers' social, contractual, mutual, traditional and communal agrarian livelihood with a depersonalized, alienating and urban division of labour. In relation to communal restrictions and sanctions on women's activities, wage-labour migration has invoked the systematic social seclusion of women-being cast away from natal communities for rebelliousness, and marginalized by class prerogative of better-off urban neighbourhood people, they are victimized socially, economically and sexually. Their increased sufferings from emotional disorders caused by pre-marital and extra-marital sexual liaison, separation and divorce; occupational and reproductive health hazards, STDs/ venereal disease; unsafe and unhygienic accommodation and workplace; loss of physical and emotional security, social safety net and legal protection indicate their exposure to increased "victimization" in society.

As well, these livelihood strife compels them to adopt self-victimizing survival strategies such as frequent concealment of identity, relocation, absenteeism, avoidance of confrontation and challenge on shop floors, submission and compromise, and passing of entitlements on to perceived male breadwinners and male guardians within household and kinship circles. They also become forced to recreate the image of docile femininity-nimbleness, obedience and dedication in the workplace. Thus, empowerment through wage-income has largely remained a myth to them. Rather, it has invoked newer processes of victimization-disentitlement and disempowerment, perpetuation of gender inequality, commodification of femininity, and subjection to a "framework of intimidation".

Innovationen und Reproduktionen in Kulturen und Gesellschaften (IRICS) Wien, 9. bis 11. Dezember 2005

WEBDESIGN: Peter R. Horn 2005-10-10