Walmart, Macy’s, Target, Kohl’s, and Hanes Have a Rape Problem
29.06.2011 § Leave a comment
Walmart’s been all over the news this week, in response to the Supreme Court decision that its female employees cannot bring a class action lawsuit against sex discrimination. But as disturbing as Walmart’s record is on discriminating against women working in their stores, there’s another area for major concern that has received little media attention. I’m talking about factories that produces clothes for Walmart stores, where women are controlled through debt bondage and regularly raped.
Walmart’s not the only well-known brand putting tainted clothes from Classic Fashion factories in its stores (although it is the biggest buyer) — Macy’s, Target, Kohl’s, and Hanes all source from the same abusive Jordan factories. An Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights report chronicles a tale of 13 to 18.5 hour workdays, 6 to 7 days a week, for minimal pay and poor living quarters. Thousands of female workers, most immigrants from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, or India, face the threat of deportation if they lose or leave their jobs…
General manager Anil Santha is well known for forcing women to come to his hotel each week, where he rapes them. If they refuse or speak out, he gets them deported. One 21-year-old worker, “Latha,” was raped five or six times by Santha, who she describes as old enough to be her father: “I was in a deeply helpless position because he is such a high-ranking figure in the factory I couldn’t disobey him… I feel so exposed and shameful sharing what he did to me… the things that happened to me. And it wasn’t only me, there were three or four other girls there too. He did this to us in the presence of one another… What is tragic is that more and more girls arrive at the factory fresh and will continue to fall prey to this monster.”
After a massive strike last October, Santha was temporarily removed, but returned to his position within the month.
Charles Kernaghan, the report author, writes in the preface: “We were stunned at how these young Sri Lankan women had been raped and tortured, while sewing clothing for the largest retailer on the face of the earth, Wal-Mart, and for Hanes, the most popular label in the United States.” Walmart claims it inspects factories, but women reported that they always informed the managers beforehand, allowing them to select a few workers to lie about conditions. In their interviews, the women begged, again and again, for somebody to help them.