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First legally binding convention on gender-based violence concluded in India

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11.07.2022

First legally binding convention on gender-based violence concluded in India

With the "Dindigul Agreement to End Gender-Based Violence and Harassment" (GBVH), there is for the first time in the Asian textile industry a legally binding agreement to end sexual violence and harassment of female workers.

The agreement has a sad background: in 2021, the textile worker Jeyasre Kathiravel was murdered by her superior. Subsequently, colleagues publicly denounced a culture of violence against women in their workplace. This led to the "Justice for Jeyasre" campaign and finally to the Dindigul Agreement. 

The Dindigul Agreement is a legally binding agreement that commits H&M to support and enforce the TTCU-Eastman Exports Agreement. If Eastman Exports breaches its obligations to TTCU, H&M is obligated to impose business consequences on Eastman Exports under the terms of the agreement. 

The agreement initially affects more than 5,000 employees at Natchi Apparel and Eastman Spinning Mills. Most of them are women between the ages of 18 and 22, who belong to the Indian Dalit caste and are therefore particularly often affected by discrimination. Migrant workers, who often do not speak the local language Tamil, should also benefit from the Dindigul agreement.  

Signatories include supplier Eastman Exports, Partnership company H&M and local trade union Tamil Nadu Textile and Common Labour Union (TTCU), as well as support organisations Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) and Global Labour Justice - International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF). During the virtual meeting of the expert group on gender-based violence on 22 June, Thivya Rakini from TTCU, Sahiba Gill, GLJ, and Nandita Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) und Global Labour Justice – International Labor Rights Forum Shivakumar, AFWA, presented the convention. 

The focus of the convention is to create conditions for union-led action to end gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH). Instruments include: 

  • Enabling collective action against GBVH through AFWA Safe Circles:The Dindigul agreement implements the AFWA concept of "Safe Circles", a programme led by workers and trade unions to train, monitor and remedy GBVH.  
  • Implementation of international standards on gender and freedom of assembly and collective bargaining, in particular ILO Convention 190, 87 und 98 
  • Protection of particularly vulnerable persons, due to caste or migration status
  • Protection of the right to form and join trade unions and unhindered access of trade unions to factories 
  • Promotion of internal complaints committees and complaint mechanisms