India: Eliminating violence against women at work

India: Eliminating violence against women at work

1 in 7 women garment workers in factories in Bangalore experience sexual violence at work

Bangalore: A new report released on 25 June by Sisters For Change and Munnade has found that 1 in 7 women workers in garment factories in Bangalore has been forced either to commit a sexual act or to have sexual intercourse and 1 in 14 has experienced physical violence in the workplace. 80% of women garment workers report their health and safety is at risk because of working conditions and 1 in 4 feel unsafe at work. In 90% of cases, the perpetrators are male supervisors or Floor-in-Charge managers.

The report, Eliminating violence against women at work: Making sexual harassment laws real for Karnataka’s women garment workers, provides evidence from a representative survey conducted among women workers in late 2015 and documents a range of cases of violence and harassment. The survey findings reveal that male perpetrators enjoy near total impunity – where sexual harassment cases were reported to management, disciplinary action was taken against perpetrators in only 3.6% of incidents but no criminal charges were brought in any case.

The report evidences an abysmal lack of compliance with the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal) Act 2013 by factories operating in the Mysore Road and Peenya industrial areas of Bangalore. The majority of garment factories – estimated at 75% by workers – have no functioning grievance mechanism or Internal Complaints Committee, as required by law.

The report makes 9 practical recommendations to improve implementation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, central to which is that the State Commission For Women should take steps to co-ordinate the different statutory bodies with responsibility for implementation of the Act and issue departmental guidelines defining mandates and responsibilities.

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