SRI LANKA: Sexual Predators and Serial Rapists Run wild at Wal-Mart Suppliers in Jordan, According to New Report by Institute for Global Labor and Human Rights

Wednesday, June 8, 2011
The Sacramento Bee
Southern Asia
Sri Lanka
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

Today the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights is releasing a very disturbing report, Sexual Predators and Serial Rapists Run Wild at Wal-Mart Supplier in Jordan, which documents in great detail and in the workers' own words, how 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, GAP, 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 and 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.

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. 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.

On releasing the report, Institute director Charles Kernaghan said, "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 rape victims 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."

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."