Hapless women workers risk their lives to reach workplace

Last Updated 16 January 2018, 17:26 IST

Around 8,000 agrarian women are facing all odds, risking their lives every day, to come out of the debt trap and support their families, working as garment workers at Shahi Exports, at Gejjalagere Industrial Area in Maddur taluk.

With drought hitting the region for years together, almost all farmers are reeling under debt. The export company at Gejjalagere has provided an opportunity for women to work and support their families. So, women from Mysuru, Chamarajanagar and other places are working in the factory, which is at a distance of one kilometre from the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway in Gejjalagere.

But travelling to work is not an easy task for these women as their mode of transport is goods autorickshaws. A partition is made in these goods autos to accommodate around 30 women per trip.

Gejjalagere is abuzz with activity around 8.30 to 9 am every day, with a number of goods vehicles moving at great speed to reach the factory on time. The women workers, who board these goods vehicles, finishing all household chores, can be seen having breakfast sitting in the vehicles.

It is said that more than 10 women have died in separate mishaps since the factory became operational 10 years ago. Speaking to DH, CITU district secretary C Kumari said that as per the norms, the factory should make arrangements for passenger vehicles for the workers. "But the factory management has not taken the issue seriously. The police and RTO officials have also turned a blind-eye towards the issue," she said.


Chandrashekar, a resident of Gejjalagere said that the KSRTC had introduced a bus service for the benefit of workers and to prevent the trips in goods autos. But the women prefer autos as they have to walk more than a kilometre for the bus stand. Hence, the goods autorickshaws are being operated without any hurdles, he said.


There are complaints that the women workers are being harassed during work hours. A complaint was lodged
with the Women's Commission and the chairperson
had even visited the factory. As the women hesitate to lodge a personal complaint, no action could be taken, it is said.

One of the workers said that their lands are turning barren, interest has to be paid every month for the loans availed and they have to bear educational expenses of their children. "Hence, it has become inevitable for us to support our families. The harassment at the workplace does not look serious, compared to family commitments," she said.

H R Kemparaj, executive (human resources), of the factory said, "We have given jobs to around 8,000 rural women in the factory. The goods auto issue is a creation of the workers themselves. They should travel by bus, but, due to their personal issues they are travelling by the autos."

(Published 16 January 2018, 17:22 IST)

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