India: Report reveals exploitation of women & girls in home-based garment sector

Author: Siddharth Kara, University of California, Berkeley, Published on: 1 March 2019

"Tainted Garments: The Exploitation of Women and Girls in India's Home-based Garment Sector", January 2019

This report offers... [a] comprehensive investigation... into the conditions of work for women and girls in India’s home-based garment sector. Women and girls tend to constitute a disproportionate portion of home-based work... Due to the lack of transparency and the informal nature of home-based work, wages are almost always suppressed, conditions can be harsh and hazardous, and the worker has virtually no avenue to seek redress of abusive or unfair conditions...

Approximately 85% of the home-based garment workers... exclusively worked in supply chains for the export of apparel products to major brands in the United States and European Union... The home-based work performed... typically involves the “finishing touches” on a garment, such as embroidery, tasseling, fringing, beadwork, and buttons... A total of 1,452 cases were documented... Most individuals work six to seven days per week, usually around six to eight hours per day. The youngest individual documented was ten years old...

The three most important findings... are:

1. 99.3% of the workers are either Muslims or belong to a heavily subordinated community, called a “Scheduled Caste.”

2. 99.2% of workers toil in conditions of forced labor under Indian law, which means they do not receive the state stipulated minimum wage...

3. 95.5% of workers are female...

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