Days after a letter alleging sexual harassment against six women at a spinning mill in Dindigul district sent shockwaves across Tamil Nadu, an official inquiry has found that there was no evidence of a case of harassment. The investigation reached a dead end after officials were unable to identify the victims even as women workers at the spinning mill denied harassment.
Speaking to The News Minute, TG Vinay, Dindigul Collector said, â€śOfficials from the Social Welfare Department conducted an inquiry along with the Directorate of Industrial Safety on Wednesday with the women at the mill. The inquiry has found that the complaint mentioned was not there. The women have denied it.â€ť He also said that the names of the six women mentioned in the letter were not on the rolls of the company.
Wednesdayâ€™s inspection, however, comes more than two months after an eight-page letter was sent to the District Collector by six women purportedly working in Rama Spinning Mills in Nallamanarkottai village in Dindigul district. The letter described the sexual harassment they allegedly faced from their male supervisor at work and pleaded for help.
The letter dated August 29, and accessed by Anuradha Nagaraj of Reuters, states:
"He forces himself on us, constantly hugging us and squeezing our breastsâ€¦Any worker who resists his advances loses part of her salary. We need this job and don't know who to talk to about the abuse we face every day. Please help us."
Complaining of abuse from male workers, the letter also alleged that other male workers are encouraged to seek sexual favours from them. The letter also states:
"Some desperate women go along with the exploitation and they are exempt from over time work. But those of us who resist are forced to complete the work orders. Any show of protest results in wage cuts."
The women also noted that they were unable to complain about the harassment with the owner of the mill as he lived in a different city. Saying they were â€śunable to bear the sexual harasssementâ€ť,â€ť the women wrote that they â€śdread going to work every dayâ€ť and were also unable to talk to their families about the problem.
The letter was sent to Dindigulâ€™s Collector and was then forwarded to the districtâ€™s Social Welfare department.
Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu Textile and Common Labour Union, which has taken up the sexual harassment case, was also unable to identify the alleged victims in the case. â€śWe are trying to identify the women who are victims of sexual harassment working at the mills. They come back late in the evening so that is the only time we get to talk to them. The worst part is that the names given in the letters are wrong so it is difficult to find them,â€ť said Victor from the Tamil Nadu Textile and Common Labour Union.
The union said that Rama Spinning Mills has 120 employees, of which 86 are women workers. Victor stated that the union had been trying to carry out enquiries in a low-key manner. However, following media reports about the letter, he alleged, the employees were not allowed to go out of the spinning mill, making their task more challenging.
KR Shanmugavel, senior manager at Rama Spinning Mills confirmed that officials inspected the mill premises on Wednesday and a report had been sent. He, however, refused to comment further on the letter.