Thomson Reuters Foundation report recently exposed the pitiful condition that the seamstresses have to go through while working in the garment industry in Tamil Nadu. While the women working in the factory couldn’t afford to lose on wages because of periods, they were given medicines, which were without any name or expiry dates. The real problem, however, came forward when many of them reported negative side effects of the medicine on their menstruation cycle. Women usually sought medicine from the factory supervisor.

The report is based on statements from 100 women in Tamil Nadu’s multi-billion dollar company. It was found that all of them were been given unlabelled drugs at work for period pain and more than half of them reported that their health suffered because of those unlabelled drugs. The company violated the labour laws as the drugs were not provided by a medical supervisor. The Tamil Nadu Government has assured that it would monitor the health of garment workers.

The report is based on statements from 100 women in Tamil Nadu’s multi-billion dollar company. It was found that all of them were been given unlabelled drugs at work for period pain and more than half of them reported that their health suffered because of those unlabelled drugs.

“They are depressing days and the pills helped”, said Sudha, a factory worker. She recognised the problem when after one year of work, and after a few months of taking the pills without medical advice, her menstrual cycle went haywire. Sadly, she is not the only one to go through this.

Many of the women workers also reported that it took them years to realise the damage those pills were doing and that they were also not informed about the side effects. The health problems ranged from urinary tract infections to disturbed menstrual cycles and stress and anxiety. The pills were then given to the Thomson Reuters Foundation were unlabelled and had no information about the composition and expiry date.

Sudha, who didn’t share her surname for the fear of reprisal, was diagnosed with fibroids, which are noncancerous growths that develop in or around the side of the uterus. Though doctors advice for rest, it is really not an option for her. She is helping her mother pay back a loan of INR 1,50,000 and half of her salary goes in that. “Half my salary (6,000 rupees) would go in paying off the loan and a big amount on my trips to the doctor,” Sudha said. “It became a cycle I was not able to break. And even though my health became worse, I needed to keep working to pay the bills.”

The Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI), a group of trade unions, charities and companies including top brands such as H&M, Mothercare, and Gap Inc. also said that they have been investigating the matter after they came to know about the pills being given to the workers.

In response to the report from Thomson Reuters, an official from Tamil Nadu Government said that the state is planning to launch a project that would monitor the health of its garment workers and will also collect data on how many of them suffered from work-related health problems. The Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI), a group of trade unions, charities and companies including top brands such as H&M, Mothercare, and Gap Inc. also said that they have been investigating the matter after they came to know about the pills being given to the workers.

This is not the first time that the pitiful situation of women workers shocked us. Another such incident came forward in April when it was found that women workers were working without a womb in Beed district of Maharashtra. They were subjected to Hysterectomy so that periods couldn’t affect their work.

Image credit: Thomson Reuters

Read More: How Contraceptive Pills Affect Women’s Emotions

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