Garment Factories can be uncomfortable environments for women to work in. The workers often find themselves vulnerable to abuse and sexual assault at the hands of their coworkers as well as senior authorities. Women of all ages have complained of having been subjected to such brutality.
One such incident occurred when a bold young woman joined a garment factory. She had a quirky personality and quickly befriended many of her colleagues. She was also very smart and was quickly promoted to the post of Supervisor. As she grew into this position, she became more assertive. Her friends began to criticise her behind her back because of her newfound confidence.
While all of this was happening, the floor-in-charge at the factory also happened to fall in love with her. In order to woo her, he would often seek to be in her company and would do so on the pretext of discussing work. She began to feel uncomfortable but couldn’t ignore the instructions of the floor-in-charge. The professional relationship between them suffered because of the negativity. Once when she returned to work after not having been able to for an entire week, he began to pester her. He kept asking her if romantic affairs were preventing her from coming to work. She remained tongue-tied for a while thinking of his seniority.
But when she couldn’t take his dirty talk anymore, she complained about it to the Union of Garment Workers. She even provided evidence in the form of recordings and diary entries. Also, when the perpetrator realised that she wasn’t responding to his advances, he shifted her position to another batch. When she refused to move, she was told that she would be demoted to the position of a tailor. The Union complained to the police, but they paid no heed to the claims. But, all the proof in her hand helped after all, and a case is presently being pursued against the floor-in-charge.
In order to combat such cases, Sumitra Acharya, a lawyer, conducted a training workshop against sexual harassment at the Shantidhama Trust in Kengeri for garment factory workers.
Sumitra took up this initiative to address a pressing issue in the garment factory sector. She provided the workers important information about the distinction between bad gaze and good gaze. A lot of women have been troubled by all forms of sexual harassment at their workplace and she encouraged all attendees to stand up for their dignity and asked them to find the courage to complain to the authorities when such an incident occurs.
Sumitra’s workshops and training programmes play a very important part in upholding the rights of a garment factory worker.
Written by Anagha Bharadwaj.