Bündnis für nachhaltige Textilien
Best Practices - Our members' projects

End child and forced labour in South India´s textile industry


Field of action

Project partner




Project duration

Social standards & living wages

terre des hommes
CARE-T (NGO to empower women and girls in India)




"Sumangali" means "happy bride" in Tamil. According to estimates, 260,000 girls in southern India work under this cover in a very specific form of forced labour, at least 160,000 of them in the textile industry. In order to be able to pay the customary dowries, many parents send their daughters to work in spinning mills under pressure from human traffickers. Employers promise a bonus after three to five years of work, but this does not even correspond to the statutory minimum wage. The girls have to work 12- to 16-hour shifts and are not allowed to leave their cramped accommodation. Many girls are subjected to abuse and sexual abuse by the supervisors. Some of the girls see suicide as the only way out.

With the help of the BMZ and the C&A Foundation, terre des hommes fights the Sumangali system, helps the victims and empowers them to lead a self-determined life: The Indian project partner CARE-T frees girls from illegal employment contracts and provides them with psychosocial and medical care. Girls are integrated into schools or training courses and can make use of legal assistance. In order to end the Sumangali system and enforce children's and labour rights, the partners develop a code of conduct for spinning mills and conduct dialogues with employers' associations, authorities and politicians.

"The first girls are at work - new role models emerge."

Interview with Barbara Küppers, Public Affairs at terre des hommes

Video: Story of a former Sumangali worker

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Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

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