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March 7, 2024

Bangalore & Gender Inequality - Fast Fashion Labor Exploitation

Bangalore, India is a major hub for garment workers, many of whom are women, who face exploitation and abuse.

Bangalore & Gender Inequality - Fast Fashion Labor Exploitation

The fast fashion industry suffers from a stark gender disparity, with women constituting the majority of the workforce yet often facing discrimination, low wages, and unsafe work conditions. In Bangalore, India over 90% of the 500,0000 garment workers are women earning as little as $60 a day. Due to exploitative conditions in factories, these women suffer from high rates of physical illness and mental illness. These women, often marginalized and without access to education, are left with few options but to work in these exploitative environments.

Health

Due to exploitative conditions in factories, women suffer from high rates of both physical and mental illnesses. These include tuberculosis, back pain, depression, irregular periods, and more. The long hours, coupled with poor ventilation and lack of appropriate safety measures, contribute to these health issues. In many cases, workers are also subject to harassment and abuse, adding to their mental stress and anxiety.

The low wages that these workers earn make it impossible for them to seek proper medical treatment, leading to a cycle of poor health and continued exploitation. Furthermore, the stigma associated with mental health issues in many societies prevents these women from seeking help, exacerbating their suffering.

Working Conditions

The working conditions in garment factories are often brutal, with some facilities lacking drinking water and ceiling fans, a necessity in Bangalore where temperatures commonly reach more than 100 degrees Farenheit.

The lack of proper equipment and safety guidelines means that workers are often exposed to harmful substances without adequate protection, leading to a range of health problems. In addition, the stress of working in such conditions, with constant pressure to meet production targets, can lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

In addition to these hazardous conditions, the workers are often denied basic rights such as breaks and are forced to work overtime without additional pay. Despite the long hours, their wages are insufficient to meet their basic needs, further entrenching them in poverty.

Exploitation

The production targets in garment factories placed on workers are arbitrary, based on the supervisor’s intensity, ranging from 20 garments an hour to 50. Workers who fail to meet these targets are often subject to penalties, such as pay cuts or dismissal. This creates an environment of constant stress and fear, further contributing to the poor mental health of these workers.

Supervisors, who are often men, verbally and physically harass and abuse these women. Women workers have reported instances of inappropriate touching, sexual comments and even physical abuse. Despite these frequent abuses, there is a lack of effective complaint mechanisms and fear of retaliation often prevents these women from reporting such incidents.

Government Efforts

The Bangalore government has set up minimum wages of around 551-651  per day, but skilled garment workers only make around 441 rupees per day on average. The government attempted to enforce minimum wages, but these efforts have been largely unsuccessful due to the lack of strict enforcement and the prevalence of unfair labor practices in the industry.

The government also needs to focus on providing access to affordable healthcare and mental health services to these workers. Education and empowerment programs should also be implemented to provide these women with more opportunities and alternatives to exploitative work. Furthermore, there should be stricter regulations and protections against workplace harassment and abuse.

In addition, there is a pressing need for the government to strengthen labor laws and enforce them more strictly. This includes implementing regular audits of factories to ensure compliance with safety standards and labor laws. Industrial disputes should be resolved through a fair and transparent process, and penalties for violations should be severe enough to serve as a deterrent.

Finally, it is crucial to address the root causes of labor exploitation, such as poverty and lack of education. This might involve investment in social programs aimed at poverty reduction, as well as initiatives to improve access to quality education, particularly for girls and women.

Source

https://www.equaltimes.org/india-s-garment-workers-continue?lang=en#.WDxrUndh1p8