The Health and Family Welfare Department,
The Social Welfare Department,
Government of Tamil Nadu.
Sub:Ailments of every daily wage women labourer during menstruation- reg.
For four years now, Jeeva(name changed) has visited as many gynaecologists as she could find in Dindugal district of Tamil Nadu. As the 28 year books an appointment with yet another doctor, she is hopeful that this one might have the miracle that cure for her infertility. “I have tried so many things, so far noting has worked. I fear taking painkillers to ease menstrual cramps without medical advice may have affected my family. When I got those pills from my factory supervisor at the spinning mill where I worked, I had no idea they could be bad for my body.” So as the story of Sudha and many more women labourers working at factories and industries for daily wages.
Although the multi-million dollar garment industry in Dindugal and Tirupur districts of Tamil Nadu provides employment to lakhs of women, the unfair practices in these mills may be putting health of many at risk. The women worker were given unlabelled drugs at work without proper subscription, of any brand, composition or expiry date. For those who started experiencing the side effects after almost a year, health problems ranged from anxiety, depression, urinary tract infections, fibroids and miscarriages. Women suffering from these problems were also not able to stop working and take care of their health as they have to look after their family conditions since most women belonged to very poor economic background, illiterate and from marginalized communities.
The director of centre for social research and development, said that sometimes women workers voluntarily seek such pills and sometimes they are asked to take pills when they request for leave. The choice was between losing wages and taking in more pills to get through the day’s production targets. This practice is common during supply season when orders are high or when deadlines are near.
It is also said that there was a lot of ‘indirect pressure’ on women employees to swallow pills and resume work when they complain of aches.
The most crucial thing is that it is also associated with stigma and shame where the female workers find it taboo to talk about their cramps and so they kept quiet and intake painkillers.
To support all these facts in issue, a leading gynaecologist in Dindugal stated that she has been approached by several girls with impaired reproductive health and all of them turned out to be mill workers which could definitely not be a co-incidence. Interestingly, some factory owners were not even aware of such incidents happening.
SIDE EFFECTS OF EXCESSIVE USE OF PAIN KILLERS:
–>Weakened immune system;
In Dindugal alone, there are 130 cotton spinning mills employing roughly 90,000 workers, many of whom are women. With production targets being the only priority, labour laws take a back seat. As per Indian labour laws, factories must have one toilet for every 20 workers but barring a few major export factories- most do not. Although the issues have been taken down to various local authorities such as Head of labour rights charity serene secular social service society, General secretary of the all-women Tamilnadu Textile and common Labour Union, there has been neither a proper concern over the matter nor a permanent solution to solve.
So,as a matter of larger cause, I kindly urge that the government should immediately take into concern this issue and regulate labour laws specially to women with regard to the regulation of menstruation leave along with half pay of their one day salary by taking into account of their poor economic background.
Periods is an issue where everyone knows about it but no one talks or acknowledges it. The prevalence is very alarming.
IIIrd Year BALLB(HONS),
SCHOOL OF EXCELLENCE IN LAW,
Featured image provided by the author.