IEH - Ethical Trading Initiative Norway

Captured by Cotton. Exploited Dalit girls produce garments in India for European and US markets.

Dalit girls and young women are exploited through the Sumangali Scheme in Tamil Naduís garmemt industry. The report shows existing initiatives and provide recommendations for companies.

SOMO / India Committee of the Netherlands

Tamil Nadu hosts a large part of Indiaís spinning mills. All companies sourcing cotton-based textiles from India are likely to indirectly source from these mills at which the exploitative Sumangali Scheme is prevalent. This scheme involve bonded labour. The girls and young women working in the mills receive a lump sum of money after three years, and there are issues of severe health risks, forced overtime, long working hours, lack of contracts, harassment and child labour.†

Action is needed at both a company and a collective level. A series of initiatives have been set up including Tiripu People Forum (TPF) and the Campaign Against Sumangali Scheme (Cass) at a local level and an ETI program and several others at an international level. A series of recommendations are given to companies. Some of the main recommendations are shown below.


Brands and retailers are recommended to:

  • Support and facilitate proper enforcement of labour standards and local laws
  • Map and understand their supply chain including second and third tiers supplier and make this information available to relevant stakeholders
  • Investigate and continuously monitor the occurrence of Sumangali Scheme throughout their supply chain
  • Ensure the establishment of genuine grievance mechanisms at supplier level
  • Seek collaboration with other brands to increase leverage
  • Engage in international structural programs, such as the one run by ETI

Exercise responsible buying practices