June, 07 2011 |  Download PDF |  Share

Sexual Predators and Serial Rapists Run Wild at Wal-Mart Supplier in Jordan

Young women workers raped, tortured and beaten at the Classic Factory

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 Executive Summary

  • According to witnesses who work at Classic Fashion, scores of young Sri Lankan women sewing clothing for Wal-Mart and Hanes have suffered routine sexual abuse and repeated rapes, and in some cases even torture.  One young rape victim at the Classic factory in Jordan told us her assailant, a manager, bit her, leaving scars all over her body.  Women who become pregnant are forcibly deported and returned to Sri Lanka.  Women who refuse the sexual advances of Classic's managers are also beaten and deported.
  • Classic, the largest garment export factory in Jordan, sews clothing for Wal-Mart, Hanes, Kohl's, Target and Macy's.  The garments enter the U.S. duty-free under the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement.
  • On the weekly holiday, the alleged serial rapist general manager, Anil Santha, sends a van to bring four or five young women to his hotel, where he abuses them.  The lives of the young Sri Lankan rape victims are completely shattered, as in their culture, virginity is highly prized and critical for a good marriage.
  • In October 2010, 2,400 Sri Lankan and Indian workers went on strike demanding the removal of the alleged rapist, Anil.  Classic's owner, Sanal Kumar, sent Anil away, but he returned after one month.
  • Through GLHR/National Labor Committee's reports, the Ministry of Labor has been made aware of the sexual abuse as early as 2007, but has done nothing.
  • The standard shift at Classic is 13 hours a day, six and seven days a week, with some 18 ½ hour shifts before the clothing must be shipped to the U.S.  According to witness testimonies, workers are routinely cursed at,  hit and shortchanged of their wages for failing to reach their mandatory production goals.  To press the women to work faster, managers grope and fondle them.
  • The workers-who are from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Egypt, earn a take-home wage of just 61 cents an hour.
  • The workers are housed in primitive dorms lacking heat or hot water, but which are infested with bed bugs.  The women have extremely limited freedom of movement and are allowed to leave the factory compound just one day a week for six hours.  When they are forced to work through their weekly holiday, they may be allowed out just once or twice a month.
  • The minimal efforts of Wal-Mart, Hanes and the other labels to monitor factory conditions at Classic have failed completely.  Workers are threatened by management and forced to say that conditions are good.
  • We are strongly urging representatives of the labels to join us in Jordan on Friday, June 17 for a large meeting with the Classic workers.
  • It is our intention, along with the United Steelworkers and our women's rights colleagues in Sri Lanka, to rescue the women who have been victimized and return them safely home to their families.  We expect Wal-Mart, Hanes and the other labels to pay significant compensation to the rape victims to restore some dignity to their lives.  This is the least they can do.
  • The U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement has also failed over the last ten years to protect the basic rights of the 30,000 foreign guest workers sewing garments for export to the U.S.
  • One Bangladeshi worker recently deported from the Classic factory told us today that, "all the workers of Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh...everybody will testify that Anil raped the Sri Lankan women.  Everybody knows.  In a safe place, the workers will testify."



By Charles Kernaghan

It was only because of several extremely courageous women who were victimized while sewing garments for Wal-Mart, Hanes and other labels, that we now know of the horrific sexual abuse and rapes that have been going on in Jordan since at least 2007.  The women, whose lives were destroyed, taped their testimonies using cell phones.  It was only in December of 2010, when GLHR was in Jordan meeting with Classic and other workers, that the taped testimonies were given to us.  When we returned to the United States, we had them translated from Sinhalese into English.  When were finally able to watch the tapes, we sat there and cried.  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.

The plea of the women workers, whose lives had been destroyed, was that if they could alert new guest workers not to enter the hell hole that Classic is and if they could save even one woman from the fate that they had suffered, they would feel vindicated. 

Because of these brave women, GLHR, the United Steelworkers union, and our women's rights colleagues from Sri Lanka will soon travel to Jordan to rescue as many rape victims as we can.

We will not let these women down.




Access interviews of victims in the full report (PDF)

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