Captured By Cotton

             Captured By Cotton pdf   Exploited Dalit girls produce garments in India for European and US Markets

  • In India, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, girls and young women are recruited and employed on a large scale to work in the garment industry. The promise: a decent wage, comfortable accommodation, and, the biggest lure: a considerable sum of money upon completion of their three-year contract. This lump sum may be used to pay for a dowry. Although the payment of a dowry has been prohibited in India since 1961, it is still a general practice in rural India for which families often incur high debts. The recruitment and employment scheme – the Sumangali Scheme- that is the subject of this report is closely linked to the payment of a dowry.
  • The Tamil word Sumangali refers to a married woman who leads a happy and contented life with her husband with all fortunes and material benefits. The reality of working under the Sumangali Scheme however,stands in sharp contrast to the attractive picture that is presented to the girls and young women during the recruitment process. Excessive overwork, low wages, no access to grievance mechanisms or redress, restricted freedom of movement and limited privacy are part and parcel of the working and employment conditions under this scheme. The promised end-of-contract sum is not a bonus, but part of the regular wage that is withheld by the employer. Often women workers do not even receive the full promised lump sum. Without exaggeration, the Sumangali Scheme in its worst form has become synonymous with unacceptable employment and labour conditions, even with bonded labour.
  • Over the past decade, the garment industry in Tamil Nadu has experienced major growth. Thousands of small and medium sized factories are involved in the complex process of turning cotton into clothing.
  • The Tamil Nadu garment industry is largely export-oriented. Customers include major European and US clothing brands and retailers. These companies source directly from smaller textile and garment factories as well as from larger enterprises. A dozen enterprises in Tamil Nadu stand out because of their vertically integrated operations, including all processes within one business.In this report, the widespread use of the Sumangali Scheme in Tamil Nadu is illustrated by four case studies of such vertically integrated enterprises of which the European and US buyers were identified:Bannari Amman Group, Eastman Exports, KPR Mill, and SSM India.
  • This report aims to provide civil society organisations, policy makers, companies and consumers withclear examples of problems related to the Sumangali Scheme and other labour rights violations in the Tamil Nadu garment industry.