Fashion Victims

Tamil Nadu, Southern India. Millions of adolescents and young women work in the textile industry, from the cotton weaving to the production of ready-to-wear garments, for both the local and the international market.
They often come from poor and rural areas, where there are no income alternatives neither for them nor for their families, especially given the constant and persistent decline of agriculture. It is in these villages that the “brokers”, acting as intermediaries between the companies in need of a sizable and docile workforce, and a local population ever more desperate, every year recruit hundreds of thousands of girls.

The girls are taken to the companies, where, besides working, they will also be living in factory hostels, although often they - nor their families and even some brokers – are not aware of this. They are enrolled through so called recruitment and exploitation schemes; one of the most known is the ‘Sumangali scheme’.

Under the scheme, the girls must work between three and five years: exhausting shifts, up to twenty hours a day, in dangerous conditions, they are deprived of the freedom of movement and to communicate with the outside world, and they do not receive a monthly salary, but only a very small amount of money for their daily needs. At the end of the stated period of work, they should receive the cumulative payment of what they have earned over the years – between five hundred and eight hundred euro. They dream of being able to use that money as a dowry for their wedding.

Instead, what often happens are work accidents, missed payments, escapes, suicides, sexual violence, and even murders.
The girls themselves, by narrating their past and their future, draw a picture of the daily cruelty of a production system in which the first fashion victims are they themselves, violated in the body and in their dreams, to produce what we wear everyday. 

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