Press

Lankan workers suffer repeated sexual abuse in Jordan

Lankasri News |  By  | June, 09 2011 |  Share  | Source Article

Campaign: Classic/Jordan-Sweatshop Abuse, Sexual Predators

 

A host of Sri Lankan women working at a garment factory in Jordan have complained about continuous sexual and physical abuse at the hands of their superiors while a report compiled by the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, records numerous firsthand accounts of the abuse.

 

In a report titled "Sexual Predators and Serial Rapists Run Wild at Wal-Mart Supplier in Jordan" many victims share their accounts of being sexually abused by their superiors while working for Classic Fashion, Jordan's largest garment export factory which is a major supplier for clothing stores like Wal-Mart, Target, Macy's and Hanes.

The report states that over 300 complaints have been filed at the Sri Lankan Foreign Employment Bureau (FEB) against General Manager, Anil Santha who is alleged to be the gravest offender amongst the rapists.

Citing an article published in Ada Derana which quotes the FEB on a clash between Sri Lankan factory workers in Jordan and an Indonesian work group, the report states that the story was completely false, adding that there has never been an Indonesian contingent at the factory. The report states that in fact the clash was a result of Sri Lankan workers protesting against senior management employees who were abusing them while they also demanded the removal of some of the key culprits.

The report states:

"Over 2,400 Sri Lankan and Indian workers at Classic went out on strike on October 9, 10 and 11, 2010, primarily demanding the ouster of Classic's general manager, Mr. Anil Santha, who the workers repeatedly accused of sexual harassment, abuse and rape. Anil would also beat workers and forcibly deport them at will.

The sad reality at the Classic Group of factories is one of serial rapists and sexual predators running wild, abusing and torturing scores of young women guest workers, especially those from Sri Lanka. Workers are routinely beaten and forced to work overtime while being shortchanged of their legal wages. The dorms lack heat and hot water, but have an abundance of bed bugs. Freedom of movement is strictly curtailed for women workers. Any worker asking for her basic rights will be forcibly deported on false charges. The 4,800 foreign guest workers at the Classic Group of factories in Jordan are trapped in a hell hole with no exit and nowhere to turn for help."

A few brave women have now come forward with their witness accounts to bring the offenders to justice while ensuring the safety of future batches of young girls who join the factory. The report gives these accounts of Sri Lankan workers who were abused - (The names have been changed to protect the identity of the victims)

Latha was just 21 years old when she was repeatedly raped by Classic manager Anil Santha.

"My name is ‘Latha.' I work at Classic. I am speaking to you about the Manager of the place I work at. My attempt here is to inform you about the harassments he causes us. I only have God above to lament about this to. Though I had tried talking to others no good or solutions have come from it.

He [Anil] summoned me to his office and made his demand, and warned me not to tell anyone... I was in a deeply helpless position because he is such a high-ranking figure in the factory I couldn't disobey him... There is so much sadness in me. So he asked me to come... 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... If any one of us either talked about this episode or did anything about it, the person would be immediately deported to Sri Lanka... What is tragic is that more and more girls arrive at the factory fresh and will continue to fall prey to this monster."

Kamala was repeatedly raped, tortured and forcibly deported when she became pregnant.

"I was molested in every way... That man tortured me. He took a lot of sexual advantages from me... I had to fulfill everything he desired because I was placed in an extremely vulnerable situation and intimidated... My whole body is in pain... I cannot face my mother and father. I am destroyed. I cannot even change clothes before my mother because Priyantha has destroyed me. I have teeth marks all over my body.

The factory's code of conduct states "Neither any form of harassment or abuse, be it physical, sexual, psychological or verbal, nor any threat of violence or corporal punishment is used against the workers or other staff..."but unfortunately for many Sri Lankan women, this code has been violated along with their innocence while authorities have continued to turn a blind eye.

The full report can be viewed on: http://www.globallabourrights.org/reports?id=0632