Garment labourers under sexual harassment threat

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Saroja, General Secretary, Garment Labour Union, Bangalore

Bangalore, September 21:The number of sexual harassment cases in the Garment Industries of Bangalore has seen an upward growing graph in the first seven months of this year.

The number of cases registered in 2016, with the Garment Labour Union was three whereas eight cases have already been registered in the first seven months of 2017.“Most months we get at least one or two complaints of various kinds of sexual harassments,” said Saroja, General Secretary of GLU.

Though the victims register the cases with GLU, they do not agree to lodge complaints with the police. Only one case of sexual harassment had been lodged in Peenya Police Station in 2016. But one the other hand, this year, in the first seven months, Peenya Police Station has registered two complaints of sexual harassment.

Saroja also said that many women workers approach the Union with different sexual harassment complaints like their bosses touching them inappropriately and asking them to fulfil their physical demands. “They majorly target the single ladies. They take disadvantage of their conditions and ask them to fulfil their demands in return of extra money,” said Yeshodha P H, General Secretary, Munnade Social Organization.

“Three of my colleagues harassed me. They used to touch me inappropriately always while I used to work and if I would resist they used to give me all odd work for which I had to stay till night,” expressed Mala (name changed) sadly.

Shripad, The Human Resource Manager of Outdoor Garment Industry said, “Tough we don’t have a specific committee for sexual harassment, we still have a committee who look after all issues of labourers. We haven’t come across any such complaint yet.”

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 states that any person has the right to have appropriate and work friendly atmosphere at his / her workplace. The Act also tells that each company should also have a sexual harassment committee to prevent and solve such cases.
Criminal Lawyer, Athul Alur commented, “The workers in this industry mainly belong to socially backward class and thus they don’t know the laws properly. They properly don’t know their rights as well. Also the number of single women workers is high in this industry which makes them more vulnerable.”

Since 2012, The GLU has been working to fight and eliminate various discriminations against women workers in Garment Industry.
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