Made for Next to Nothing. Worn by You?

Source: Elizabeth Paton, New York Times, February 6, 2019

A new report shows the depth of the fashion industry’s exploitation of female home workers in India. Ever since the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013, Western fashion brands have been under pressure to investigate and police their own supply chains. Now, a new report from the University of California, Berkeley, shows just how shadowy those supply lines are, as scores of labels rely not just on factories in India but also on exploited home workers…..

Tainted Garments: The Exploitation of Women and Girls in India’s Home-Based Garment Sector
Source: Siddharth Kara, University of California, Berkeley – Blum Center for Developing Economies, January 2019

This report offers the most wide-reaching and comprehensive investigation yet into the conditions of work for women and girls in India’s home-based garment sector. Women and girls tend to constitute a majority of home-based work across numerous informal sectors, along with the exploitative conditions that come with them, which in turn perpetuates the subordinated and oppressed status of women and girls. Due to the lack of transparency and the informal nature of home-based work, wages are almost always suppressed, conditions can be harsh and hazardous, and the worker has virtually no avenue to seek redress for abusive or unfair conditions. Power imbalances relating to gender further perpetuate the exploitation of female home-based workers, as their liaisons (i.e., labor subcontractors) are typically male and can often be verbally abusive or intimidating in order to secure compliance. The situation of the home-based workers is worsened by the fact that there is little to no regulation or enforcement from the state regarding their conditions of work. Indeed, the researchers found that home-based garment workers in India consist almost entirely of women and girls from historically oppressed ethnic communities who scarcely manage to earn $0.15 per hour…..