India: Brand and retailer responses to BHRRC report on gender-based violence & harassment in garment factories
In April 2022, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) published a joint research report with Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) and Society for Labour Development (SLD) on gender-based violence and harassment in garment factories in India. The report is based on the testimonies of 90 women garment workers employed at 31 factories in India which supply to, or have recently supplied to, at least 12 international brands, including American Eagle, ASDA, C&A, Carrefour, H&M, JD Sports, Kohl's, Levi Strauss & Co., Marks & Spencer, Primark, Tesco, and VF Corporation.
Women from all 31 factories - located in three major producing hubs in India: Karnataka; Tamil Nadu; and Delhi NCR - reported experiences of gender-based violence and harassment in the workplace prior to, and during, the COVID-19 pandemic. The report brings to light the unprecedented levels and new forms of GBVH faced by women garment workers during the pandemic, including: intensified violence and harassment; intensified work rates with inhumane and mandatory overtime, leading to exhaustion and increased accidents; lack of protection from COVID-19 exposing women (and their families) to disease; discrimination and unfair dismissal, including for pregnancy; wage cuts driving workers further below the poverty line, and widespread wage theft; demand for attendance at work during lockdowns, leading to police harassment and violence during commutes; and a continuum of violence in the home, linked to their experiences of workplace exploitation.
Ahead of the report’s publication, BHRRC gave the 12 buyers linked to the factories the opportunity to comment on the findings. The responses are included in the report and are posted in full below. At the time of writing, some of the brands are in dialogue with AFWA and local unions to discuss the findings.
We will update this page as we receive further company statements in response to the findings beyond the report's publication date.