Young girls forced to slog for longer hours in garment factories

A former employee pours out tales in front of Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights

This was revealed by an activist Yashoda, while airing grievances in front of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) on Saturday.

Yashoda, a former garment factory worker and an activist said that girls were brought from villages in Andhra Pradesh and housed in hostels under guard. “They are taken to the factory every morning and brought back in the evening. They are not allowed to go anywhere and they cannot speak to anyone as they do not know the language. They get paid Rs 1,500 per month which is below minimum wages and they are returned back to AP after a period of one year. This is a form of bonded labour and we have heard of cases of sexual exploitation as well,” she said.

She named three companies, Bombay Rayon, Wonder Blues and Choice Apparels, all located in and around Mysore Road, as the factories where this was practiced. Nearly 150 such girls are said to be in the factories.

This was one of the stories that emerged at the public hearing for women garment factory workers’ children organised by KSCPCR.

Healthcare

Women outlined how the companies have been unable to provide proper healthcare and creche facilities despite comprehensive labour department guidelines on this matter.

Several instances were quoted, where women said that their children could not get creche facilities after they turned 3 years, despite the law assuring them facilities till the child was 6 years old.

 Even the creches were not safe, with fears of smoke and gas polluting the environment and lack of trained personnel supervising the children.

Other women spoke of how they were not hired by garment factories, if they had children below three years of age and were asked to come back only after the child turned three, so the company would not have to provide creche facilities.

Nagu, working at Bombay Rayon, described how she has to keep her children locked in the house after they come back from school as there is no other place to keep them.

Creche facility demanded

Other women described how they were scared as their daughters aged around 10 were subject to harassment from neighbourhood boys, when they were left by themselves at home. The women largely demanded creche facility for children under 6 years and facility to house children under 10 years of age.

The Commission will now seek the opinion of the management in these cases and then send their recommendations to the Government.

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