Study reveals ‘unchecked’ exploitation of women and girls from marginalised communities
'Most consumers don’t think twice about the buttons on their shirt, or the sparkles on their dress. But these finishing touches are sewn by some of the world’s most vulnerable women and girls.
A week on from revelations that women in a Bangladesh factory were paid the equivalent of 35p an hour to make Spice Girls T-Shirts sold to raise money for Comic Relief, a new report highlights the exploitative conditions facing millions of home-based garment workers in India.
Research by the University of California found that women and girls from the most marginalised communities toiled for as little as 15 cents (11p) an hour in homes across India. Child labour and forced labour were rife and wages regularly suppressed.
The study is thought to be the most comprehensive assessment of conditions facing home-based garment workers, whose work often involves applying the final touches to a garment, including embroidery, tasseling, beadwork and buttons.
“Every major brand, every boutique retailer and everyone in between who sources garments form India is touched by this issue,” said Siddharth Kara, the report’s author and a lecturer at the University of California. “It ends up on the shelves of every major brand in the west.”
Roughly one in five home-based garment workers in India are aged 17 and under, according to the study, which draws on interviews with 1,452 workers. The youngest individual interviewed was 10 years old, although researchers witnessed dozens of younger children.'
Read more: Major western brands pay Indian garment workers 11p an hour