The clothes you are wearing or that are in your wardrobe may be made from cotton that was spun. dyed or woven by Dalit girls trafficked into cotton mills in Tamil Nadu, India. Dalit Freedom Network UK have teamed up with Stop The Traffik's 'Make Fashion Traffik-Free' campaign to address this exploitation through mobilising consumers.
Female workers, mainly aged 14 to 23 years old, are recruited with false promises of a good job and a lump sum payment under the guise of an ‘apprenticeship’ scheme called Sumangali. Once recruited, many find that they are essentially trapped within a factory for up to five years, and two out of three never receive the promised lump sum.
The cotton is spun, dyed and woven in these factories to be sold to consumer markets all over the world. It is likely to be found in most of our favourite high street shops and labels. It is likely to be in cotton garments in our wardrobes and drawers.
Do You Want To Buy Traffik-Free Clothes?
It is not currently possible to know which items, or which shops sell items, made with cotton that is free from human trafficking. Most retailers and fashion labels either don’t know where they buy their cotton from or choose not to make that information public.
This isn’t good enough. We believe that as consumers we have the right to know how, where and under what conditions the clothes we buy were made. We want to be able to choose Traffik-Free and help change the lives of the women and girls trapped in this scheme. We want to ensure that suppliers who treat their workers well are on a level playing field.
Help us end the Sumangali scheme and join the campaign to Make Fashion Traffik-Free!
Make Fashion Traffik-Free
To Make Fashion Traffik- Free and end the human trafficking of young women and girls in the cotton industry in Tamil Nadu we are asking retailers and brands to take action by:
- Mapping and reporting on their supply chain
- Committing to the Make Fashion Traffik-Free Protocol
We need you to help us achieve this! We know change will only happen when we join together with our collective voices and take action!
We want businesses to flourish, but not at the expense of human dignity. We do not want businesses to be closed down since that deprives workers of income and simply moves the problem elsewhere. Flourishing businesses can not only provide a sustainable livelihood and dignity for their employees, but can also bring prosperity and well-being to local communities. This is why we are not suggesting boycotting shops as this would have a detrimental effect on workers and communities. We simply want businesses to change any exploitative recruitment and employment policies and practice to make this happen.
As a valued customer at your favourite brand or retailer, your voice matters. Next time you are out shopping take a signed Make Fashion Traffik-Free postcard into your favourite high street retailer urging them to take action. Or email the company directly.