How a Dalit garment worker’s murder sparked a movement that got H&M to address gender-based violence

Ardra Manasi

At the age of 18, Jeyasre Kathiravel had aspirations like any other young person. She wanted to go to college, get a degree and see where life would take her.

But this was a radical dream. Kathiravel came from a Dalit family and was the first woman from her village of Thennampatti in Tamil Nadu to pursue higher studies. Though college was expensive and her family could not afford it, this did not deter Kathiravel. To pay for her education, she did what many women elsewhere in the world have done: she started a job at a local factory.

In 2018, Kathiravel began her life as a garment worker at Natchi Apparels, a factory in Kaithian Kottai in Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu. Natchi Apparels, a supplier unit for the global fashion brand H&M, was owned by Eastman Exports, the fourth-largest garment exporter in India.