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Pakistan’s textile firms pay women 50% less than men

Men are paid Rs30,000 for stitching, while women are paid Rs15,000

SAMAA | - Posted: Jan 24, 2019 | Last Updated: 3 years ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Jan 24, 2019 | Last Updated: 3 years ago

Men are paid Rs30,000 for stitching, while women are paid Rs15,000

Photo: AFP

When men stitch garments they are paid Rs30,000, but when women do the same they are paid Rs15,000 or even Rs12,000, Uzma, a garment worker told Human Rights Watch in an interview for a report on labour right abuses in Pakistan’s garment factories.
Women workers are exceptionally disempowered and discriminated against in the garment industry in Pakistan, the global human rights organization said in its report, ‘No Room to Bargain: Unfair and Abusive Labor Practices in Pakistan.’

Related: In Pakistan’s garment factories, pregnant women are fired or sent on forced leave

“I have been working at this factory for the past eight years. My salary is around Rs9,000 [$65] per month,” said another woman who works at a Karachi factory that supplies garments to domestics and international brands. “I know that the payment is below the government minimum wage [Rs15,000], but who will hear our complaint? If I protest, I will be fired in a heartbeat,” she said.

These revelations, made public on January 23, may not be surprising when seen in the context of the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2016, which ranks Pakistan at 143rd out of 144 countries in the gender inequality index, better than only Yemen.

Related: In Pakistan’s sweatshops, workers are fired for asking for toilet breaks

“Many women are employed as on contract, piece-rate, non-unionized workers in low-paid and low-skilled roles,” the Human Rights Watch said.

The report highlights poor working conditions at garment factories, which employ 4.2 million people, most of whom are women. It identifies a range of labor rights violations affecting the lives of these factory workers whose plight remains off the political agenda of the country’s ruling elite

Related: Pakistan’s home-based women workers are paid Rs5 per garment

In a field survey of 140 people from 24 factories in Karachi, Lahore, and Hafizabad, workers, many of them women, said that they experienced verbal abuse, were pressured not to take toilet breaks, and were even denied clean drinking water. People demanding their rights could be threatened or fired.

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