The Gender Beat: Women Exploited in India’s Textile Mills; Pachauri Claims He Left TERI Voluntarily

A round-up of what’s happening in the worlds of gender and sexuality

A worker tends to yarn-spinning equipment at a factory in Coimbatore, about 500 km (310 miles) from Chennai, January 8, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Babu/Files

A worker tends to yarn-spinning equipment at a factory in Coimbatore, about 500 km (310 miles) from Chennai, January 8, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Babu/Files

Interview: Women work like machines in India’s textile mills, says union leader

The Thomson Reuters Foundation interviewed Rajaram Paritha, the head of the all-women Tamil Nadu Textile and Common Labour Union. The 35-year-old Paritha works with the union to address exploitation and abuse in the multi-billion dollar textile and garment industry which makes use of bonded labour in south India.

Workers are subjected to terrible working conditions, restrictions on their freedom, and verbal as well as sexual abuse. “A conservative estimate suggests there may be at least 100,000 girls and young women being exploited in this way,” says the report.

R.K. Pachauri says he left TERI of his own accord

R.K. Pachauri told the Huffington Post India that he had left TERI voluntarily. The ex-TERI chief, accused of sexual harassment at the workplace, said in a statement, “This statement is being issued to provide the media with information about my stepping away from TERI’s Governing Council. My term as a Member of the Governing Council ended on March 31, 2016, and I felt that it was time for me to move away and get engaged in other interests which I have harboured over the past few years for activities at the global level.”

Pachauri’s claims run counter to what sources in the organisation’s Governing Council told the Economic Times, i.e. he was being removed as things in the last seven or eight months had become too “messy.”

Two more women came forward, accusing Pachauri of sexual harassment at the workplace after the original FIR was filed. The organisation’s own internal complaints committee found Pachauri guilty of the charges.

A day after senior police officials summoned by NCSC, rape accused arrested

A day after the National Commission for Scheduled Castes summoned two senior police officials over police inaction on two rape cases filed by Dalit women, one of the accused was arrested in Malout, Punjab.

The arrest happened over a month after the original complaint was filed, despite CCTV evidence showing the accused dragging the woman away.

Triple talaq system exploitative, say Muslim women leaders

On April 21, the Supreme Court of India gave six weeks to the All India Muslim Personal Law Board to present its views on the triple talaq, which is currently being challenged in court by Shayara Bano, say reports.

A piece in DNA features the views of several Muslim women leaders on the practice of triple talaq. The women leaders interviewed for the piece “unequivocally agreed that the triple talaq system exploits women, but contended that the reforms should come from within the community rather than being enforced by the judiciary or the legislation.”

Women conductors molested, assaulted

Harassment against women bus conductors in Hyderabad is rampant, reports The Times of India. The Telangana State Road Transport Corporation employs over 2,000 women conductors, who face verbal, physical and sexual harassment by passengers. The report says that the women conductors face 10 to 12 incidents of harassment every month. Both women passengers and conductors are at risk aboard state public transportation.

Women kiln workers rise for their rights

An organisation, Volunteers for Social Justice, organised a successful day-long convention for women workers in the unorganised sector on April 21. The Times of India reports  that 1,500 women brick kiln workers gathered, and were told about their rights. Specifically, they were told about how to register for the Employees’ Provident Fund scheme, a benefit that currently don not receive because of exploitative brick kiln owners.