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H&M Signs Agreement to End Gender-Based Violence in India’s Apparel Industry

A weaver in India | Source: Shutterstock
Female garment workers in India will be afforded better protections against harassment and violence under the agreement. (Shutterstock)

The binding agreement to protect female workers from sexual harassment and violence comes a little over a year since the murder of 20-year-old garment worker Jeyasre Kathiravel, who was killed by her supervisor in January 2021.

Kathiravel worked for Natchi Apparel, a supplier for H&M in Kaithian Kottai, Tamil Nadu, and had reported harassment at her workplace in the months prior to her death. According to media reports, her supervisor confessed to the crime and is awaiting trial.

On Friday, H&M Group joined with Natchi Apparel’s parent company and major local supplier, Eastman Exports Global Clothing Private Limited, as well as the Tamil Nadu Textile and Common Labour Union, the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, and Global Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Forum to unveil the Dindigul Agreement to Eliminate Gender-Based Violence and Harassment (GBVH).

The agreement constitutes a commitment to eradicate discrimination based on gender, caste, or migration status; to increase transparency; and to develop a culture of mutual respect in garment factory settings. It includes regular training for all workers, supervisors, and managers; a peer education program; and shop floor monitors to detect and report incidents of gender-based violence and harassment.

“All our employees deserve safety and respect at work,” said Subhash Tiwari, chief executive of Eastman Exports. “It is our hope that this unique agreement and partnership will not only positively impact Natchi’s valued workforce but will also serve as a model for other garment factories.”

The initiative has been pushed by the Tamil Nadu Textile and Common Labour Union (TTCU), a women-led, independent and majority Dalit trade union of textile workers.

“This agreement delivers power and support to women workers to monitor, prevent and remediate gender-based violence and harassment collectively and with management,” said TTCU general secretary Jeeva M. “We will use this as a model to organise against GBVH and caste-based discrimination industry wide.”

Learn more:

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