A hairdressing salon in southern India has been accused of drugging its workers, including women, and threatening to kill them if they refused to do the dirty work, the Guardian has learned.
The alleged incidents are among the most serious in the country, where up to 90 per cent of India’s population of nearly 1.2 billion live on the margins of society, according to a survey released last year by the UN.
“The women of the haberdasher salon in Thiruvananthapuram in the district of Rajasthan are being threatened to be murdered if they do not do the hairlines,” an employee at the premises, who requested to remain anonymous, told the Guardian.
The salon in the southern city of Kottayam allegedly employs a handful of workers in a room decorated with flowers and the slogan: “Hair is the new fashion.”
The worker said she was threatened with violence if she refused to perform the hairstyles, including using a toothbrush, which the salon insisted was not part of its contract.
The worker told the newspaper that the workers were also told that they could be sacked if they did not do any work, including washing the hair.
“I do not feel like a hairdressor, because I am an independent person,” the worker said.
The workers said they were told they would be sacked only if they performed all of the required tasks.
“All the girls have gone home.
They were promised that if they don’t perform the duties of the job, they will be fired.
They have not been told that these girls have to perform some tasks, such as washing hair.
But they have been told to do them,” the employee said.
Another employee said the salon was told to perform hairdling or other cleaning work as well as perform the final touches, such that the employees were expected to be paid in cash, and that the work was not mandatory.
“If the hair is washed, we are not paid.
The workers do the final touch.
We have no money,” the woman said.
According to the woman, the salon’s owner, K Raghu, also a haberdaiser, is also a part-time hairdler.
“He has a full-time job.
He has a job for one month.
We were supposed to be working on Saturdays but he has to perform a certain task,” she said.
Raghu told the paper that the hailstorms had also affected the quality of the hair in the salon.
“We are having a lot of problems.
We do not know if we are going to be able to keep our place.
We need to sell our salon.
There are other places to work and we will have to close,” he said.”
They said we have to wash hair but we have not washed our hair.
We will be forced to go to another salon for washing hair,” the staffer said.