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Made In Cambodia - With A Growing Role In The Global Garment Trade, Cambodia Was To Be A Model For Fair Labour Practices. Its People Finally Had Hope For A Better Standard Of Living. So Why Are Workers Still Struggling To Eke Out An Existence?

Publication Date: 
October 20, 2013
Toronto Star
Jennifer Wells

The Toronto Star references a report on working conditions in Cambodian garment factories produced by Stanford Law's International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic. 

Neang Seap and his wife, Em Mom, arrived in Phnom Penh bearing the lacerating wounds that mark Cambodia's rural migrants. Evicted by the Khmer Rouge in the late '70s from his village in the country's eastern zone, Neang was part of the long forced march west, ending up at the Khao-I-Dang refugee camp, just across the Thai border. It was there that he met his 15-year-old bride-to-be. The couple married and brought five babies into the world before moving to the capital, where Em bore four more children.

Neang, now 59, tightens the towel that wraps about his waist, scrapes a chair across the parched hardwood and settles his sinewy frame. Once he was a rice farmer, before his land was taken away, before the music was taken away, before the books were taken away. His is one story, but thousands are identical. Hundreds upon hundreds of thousands.


Then came the grenade. In February of this year, BFC was slammed by a report entitled "Monitoring in the Dark," a project of the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic at Stanford Law School working alongside the Worker Rights Consortium, which has been advocating for labour rights in the garment sector since its founding in 2000. Providing information on factory conditions only to factory managers and the brands that source from the factory has resulted in "a glaring lack of transparency and an institutional overemphasis on protecting the interests of factory owners and international buyers, rather than responding to appeals from garment workers to protect them from abuse."