India: Reports reveal women garment workers trapped in hostels, physically abused & sexually harassed

Author: Kavita Krishnan, The Print, Published on: 20 February 2020

“Phones seized, abused, hit: What women in Karnataka & Tamil Nadu’s garment factories endure”, 18 February 2020

A study…in Tamil Nadu [textile factories] titled ‘Flawed Fabrics’, exposes…child labour and bonded labour as well as a range of gendered disciplinary measures. Hostels for the women workers [who migrate]…severely restrict autonomy and mobility,...workers [not] allowed to leave the hostel on their own [or] use [m]obile phones. [G]irls and women are effectively locked up. [In]…Karnataka, a [People’s Union for Civil Liberties reported]…"workers...cut off from…the external world”.

[In Tamil Nadu and Karnataka]…shop floors are [also] arranged [to]…prevent any form of interaction between the workers except during…, [aiming to deter unionisation]. Responding...the management of Sulochana mill [said]: “[Because] of our…culture and [parental expectation],…girls [have]…been provided accommodation,…for safety and security”. [Reports]…describe how women workers…subscribe to the idea that such restrictions are to be expected for Indian women.

Studies...document the extreme emotional distress to which women garment workers are subjected,…demeaning, exhausting and exploitative conditions…[and],...humiliating corporal punishments. [One] young woman attempted…suicide after…being “scolding and hit in front of [workers]". Male supervisors [and]…managers...draw on forms of humiliation…shaped by caste or gender. Women...are frequently subjected to physical violence [and] [s]exual harassment is…common...

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