NEW DELHI — From lewd comments to demands for sex, women working in India's vast informal sector rarely report sexual harassment for fear of losing their jobs, labor rights campaigners said on Wednesday, three years after the #MeToo movement began.
From street vendors and factory workers to maids, 95% of Indian women work in the informal sector and many are exploited regularly, despite a law ordering employers to set up committees to resolve harassment complaints, Human Rights Watch said.
Shalini, a maid who was sexually harassed by a security guard for months while working at a private residence on the outskirts of the capital New Delhi, said ordinary women were too scared to speak out.
"Some families blame the woman and start beating her. If you tell your employer, then they will fire you. ... Police are the worst. They ask really inappropriate questions," said Shalini, whose name has been changed to protect her identity.
"With no one to turn to, most women just bottle it all up inside. They learn to ignore or normalize it," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, adding that in her case, the guard was transferred after her family complained to his employer.