The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) on Friday condemned alleged cases of human rights violations against women palm oil workers as reported by the Associated Press (AP) news agency and promised to investigate them.
The Associated Press has published the results of its comprehensive investigation into the brutal treatment of women in palm oil production, including cases of sexual harassment of young female workers on oil palm plantations.
“These allegations are in no way representative of our standard, and we condemn such conduct. If incidents like these are happening within our certified members’ concessions, we will investigate immediately,” RSPO said in a press release received by The Palm Scribe, responding to the release of the AP report.
The RSPO says that events such as those reported by the AP were strictly and categorically prohibited under the organization’s standard certification.
“RSPO strives to ensure that human rights are recognized and protected under our standard, be it for men, women, or children,” RSPO added.
RSPO also has standards on the rights and needs of women as workers that were different from those of male workers. RSPO is taking a more inclusive approach to developing systems that can prevent sexual harassment and other potential hazards to women in the workplace.
“Our standards include recognition of women’s rights and needs as workers, which differ to male counterparts. The RSPO’s Principles and Criteria take a more inclusive approach that requires its members to develop systems that prevent sexual harassment and other potential harms that women are particularly vulnerable to at work,” concluded the RSPO.
RSPO aired hope that its members would provide space for women workers to submit complaints and suggestions in carrying out their daily activities.
In the release, the RSPO called on anyone with information about human rights violations against women workers or other violations, especially on plantations of RSPO members, to file confidential complaints through the RSPO complaints system or directly contact their Human Rights Defenders Hotline.