How Working From Home Puts Many Women At Risk

How Working From Home Puts Many Women At Risk


Kokila used to work as a home-based tailor in Delhi, India, but it was an abusive environment. “I worked stitching garment pieces for a contractor and often had to work nights to finish my work,” she says. “My dedication became the cause of physical abuse. If my husband woke up he would hit me and tell me to stop working on the sewing machine. He claimed that the noise made by the machine did not let him sleep.” 

Kokila’s husband did not see the merit in her work, even though it brought in extra money for the family. “I endured the constant violence because I needed to earn this additional income to give a better life to my children,” she says. 

About 60 percent of garment production in Asia is done at home. Those who work from home may be at risk of violence both at home and in their dealings with contractors, but often have no legal protections from such abuse. Many women say contractors feel a sense of superiority and control over homeworkers.  

“We endure constant harassment every time we have to go to pick up work,” agreed a group of workers who came together to discuss the issue. “The contractors find themselves very much at ease touching or talking to women inappropriately or in a manner which makes us uncomfortable. They believe we are not equipped with any particular ability to do anything about it. If anybody at any point speaks against this, they simply do not give them any work.” 

Workers often put up with the harassment so they can continue to earn. “We have to not only deal with a lack of work, but when we do get it, we have to handle the contractors and the things they do because they think they hold power over us.”  

Women should not have to endure such abuses for access to work.

CARE partner HomeNet South Asia and other organizations encourage women to work together to address these issues, including advocating for better laws against violence and harassment globally.  

The International Labour Conference 2018 is discussing a proposed Convention on ending violence and harassment in the world of work. CARE believes homeworkers such as those working in the garment supply chain should be protected from harassment at work equally alongside those working in factories.  

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