WOMEN

HuffPost Her Stories: Working Under Constant Surveillance

Plus: Why the Weinstein verdict isn’t a win for all survivors.
Bhanmati is one of a number of Indian sanitation workers who is being required to wear a GPS-enabled tracking device during h
Bhanmati is one of a number of Indian sanitation workers who is being required to wear a GPS-enabled tracking device during her workday.

Hi, readers!

From harassment to discrimination to subpar pay, women face a variety of challenges in the workplace. And for some women in India, surveillance is making it challenging for them to even use the bathroom during the workday.

Municipal sanitation workers in parts of India are now being monitored by GPS-enabled tracking devices throughout the day, reports Rachna Khaira, senior reporter on privacy and technology for HuffPost India. 

There’s little oversight of the surveillance program and no available information about how the data from the devices is tracked or stored. The devices include a microphone and a camera, which has led to anxiety among workers. They fear their supervisors and the government could be listening to their conversations or watching them even after-hours.

About 30% to 35% of city sanitation workers across the country are women, but there isn’t data on what portion of those women are under the new monitoring systems.

Some female workers who are being required to wear the devices have stopped taking bathroom breaks because they fear a supervisor could watch them via the tracker’s camera. Two women told Rachna that there are no toilets in their work area. Because the trackers alert supervisors if they leave their work area — and doing so could result in their salaries being docked — they have refrained from using the toilet during their 11-hour workday.

Another female worker, Bhanmati, said the tracker’s power button often switches off when her bangles — which many women wear to show they’re married — hit it throughout the day, and her supervisor has to ask her to turn it back on each time. 

The trackers are raising concerns regarding health, privacy and security for all sanitation workers required to wear them.

“This has affected not only their health but their minds as well,” Rachna said, noting that after wearing the devices from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. for their jobs, “the workers are now complaining of nausea, high blood pressure, severe headache and skin allergies. Also, they have accused the government of violating their privacy rights.”

Have you encountered invasive surveillance in your workplace? Share your story with me.

Until next week,

Sara

Sara Bondioli, editor, HuffPost U.S.

Follow Rachna Khaira (@rachnakhaira) for more stories on privacy and technology. And follow HuffPost India (@HuffPostIndia) for news from the South Asian country.

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