The investigation into the death of a teenage girl working in a spinning mill in Tamil Nadu has raised concerns over the working conditions of textile workers, especially those trapped in bonded labour.
The 17-year-old girl, a farmer’s daughter, was found unconscious in her room in the Ganapathy Spinning Mills compound in Vellakoil in Tirupur district, on March 10 after she did not come for a regular overtime shift.
The cause of her death remains unknown, pending results of a post-mortem investigation. However, police said they had arrested a co-worker on charges of abetment to suicide.
Civil society groups are calling for a full investigation into the case, saying cases of suicide related to sexual abuse and labour exploitation in India’s booming textile industry go largely unreported.
Repeated attempts to reach the mill’s management were unsuccessful.
A report into the girl’s death by the Tamil Nadu Textile and Common Labour Union, a women-led trade union set up to represent women in the textile industry, said there were “wound marks on her body and rope impressions around her neck”.
This week’s women’s union report said the teenage mill worker had found it difficult to cope with the work pressure.
“Every day she did four hours of overtime, after completing an eight hour shift. After one year she wanted to leave, but her parents convinced her to complete the contract period,” the report said. “She was sexually harassed by a male worker and had complained to her brother and the mill management” it added.