Make Fashion Traffik Free
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 themselves trapped within a factory for up to five years. Two out of three never receive the promised payment.
The workers have limited freedom. They have to sleep in accommodation in a hostel within the factory walls or guarded by the male factory employees with only limited contact with their families or the outside world. They are forced to work often up to 12 hours a day, 6 days a week or more without the compensation they have been promised.
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 shops and labels. It is likely to be in cotton garments in our wardrobes and drawers.
You can find out more from Caroline Kitto, STOP THE TRAFFIK Australia Coordinator, who did some of the initial research into the Sumangali scheme.
Ways to respond to the Sumangali scheme:
1. Host a wardrobe swap. Invite your friends to bring pre-loved clothes they no longer want and have fun swapping! As you do that, give them some information about the Make Fashion Traffik Free Campaign.
2. Host a film screening . STOP THE TRAFFIK is producing a 40 minute documentary which highlights the Sumangali scheme and ways to change it. Invite your community, colleagues, friends, family to a public screening of this film, or host one yourself!
3. Talk to your favourite retailers. We have the “power of the purse”. Retailers need us to keep them in business. So let’s tell them we love their clothes, but that we don’t want to buy anything made through the Sumangali scheme. Working together with them will bring about lasting change.