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H&M commits to ending shopfloor sexual violence following murder of employee

By Rachel Douglass

Apr 4, 2022

Business

Image: H&M

H&M has signed an agreement with one of its Indian clothing suppliers to end sexual violence and harrassment against women following the 2021 murder of an employee.

Last January, Jeyasre Kathiravel was found dead following a shift at H&M’s Natchi Apparel factory in Kaithian Kottai, Tamil Nadu.

According to police reports acquired by The Guardian, her supervisor confessed to her murder and is currently awaiting trial. The media outlet also reported that Kathiravel had suffered months of sexual harassment on the factory floor before her death.

In a statement to FashionUnited, H&M said on the agreement: “H&M Group wants to do our utmost to contribute to systemic and positive change in the industry and have therefore signed an agreement to work together with industry stakeholders to address, prevent and remedy gender-based violence and sexual harassment.”

The statement continued: “We expect this agreement to contribute to a broader industry-wide initiative going forward. Every worker should feel safe working in our industry, whether they are employed by our suppliers or not.”

The agreement is reportedly only the second of its kind in the industry and is the first by a retailer to confront gender-based violence in Asia’s industry.

H&M added that it had stopped placing orders with the supplier several months ago but said it was “committed to work in collaboration to improve the conditions for workers and to being part of a solution”.

Under the agreement, all factory workers, supervisors and executives are to take part in gender-based violence training and it will further ensure women can report sexual harassment anonymously to an independent panel.

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