It’s an industry dominated by women workers. And so when the employees of the many garment factories in Bengaluru exploded in anger recently over the government’s attempts to restrict their right to withdraw from their provident fund, a large number who took to the streets in protest were women, many of them young, raising slogans and demanding justice.
But as thousands of garment workers held up traffic on the roads, things inevitably got out of hand. Traffic was held up for hours and mobs went on the rampage , setting vehicles on fire and destroying property. In the process, the women were caned by an outnumbered police force, trying to restore order.
But the spectre of helpless women being lathicharged and beaten has got the law men into trouble and far from winning them any brownie points for trying to curb the rioting, has earned them widespread displeasure instead.
“The women were not the troublemakers, they didn’t set any vehicles ablaze as the videos clearly show. They were just raising slogans and were badly beaten up for it,” say protesting women activists, pointing out that the Karnataka Police Act clearly lays down police officer must exercise “reasonable gentleness” and act with decency when dealing with women and children.