Garment factories in Tamil Nadu have been exploiting their workers and as per a recent survey have made serious violations curtailing basic worker rights.
A recent investigation conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation found that women workers were being fed unlabelled drugs to curb menstrual pains during work hours. Reuters interviewed 100 women workers from the garment industry and all of them confirmed the consumption of these drugs.
The drugs were all unlabelled and no medical professionals were involved in acquiring them. As of today, the workers have been using them for years and the long-term effects ranged from depression, anxiety, fibroids, UTIs, and miscarriages.
Reuters wrote in their report,
The women, who were mostly aged 15 to 25, said they were always told to swallow the pills in front of the overseer. They were never told the name of the drugs or warned about possible side-effects.
The drugs sampled by Reuters even had no markings, brand name, composition, or expiry date.
Sudha, a factory worker who’s about 20-years-old said,
My body feels weak after the last couple of years working in the factory. It is difficult but I manage.
Medical examinations showed that Sudha was suffering from fibroids in her uterus.
It took several years for women like Sudha to realise how the pills were damaging their bodies. Not even once were they warned about the adverse effects of taking this medication.
Several experts and activists have spoken up about the harsh conditions in which these women are kept in factories. From limited toilet breaks to controlling their menstrual cycles, the atrocities they go through qualify as human rights violations.
The increase in demand from retailers across the world have only made the situation of these workers worse.
When asked about escaping the vicious system, Sudha responded,
Half my salary of Rs 6,000 rupees would go in paying off a loan and a big amount on my trips to the doctor. It became a cycle I was not able to break. And even though my health became worse, I needed to keep working to pay the bills.
Only after Reuters’ findings have officials agreed to look into the matter. They have confirmed there will be rigorous monitoring of the garment industry workers health and the conditions in which they have been kept.
There are about 40,000 garment factories which are part of the multi-billion garment industry in Tamil Nadu. More than 3,00,000 female workers are employed by these factories and could be vulnerable to these health malpractices.
Read the full report here.