Sumangali scheme

In Tamil Nadu State, India, the textile industry employs a high number of mostly teenage girls. Young women are recruited in rural villages where there are no other job opportunities, save for work in the agricultural sector. Unpredictable rains and drought make such work hard, painful and scarcely profitable. Girls who need to offer their future husband’s family an economically consistent dowry cannot earn enough money, and this is why many of them decide to go to work in the textile and garment factories. For three years they are kept confined in these structures, where besides working, they also live in extremely degraded conditions, without being free to go out and without any private life, forced to buy with their salary also their work outfits. After three years of work – if they have not fallen ill in the meantime or if no other accident has happened – they receive between 500 and 800 Euros as a gratuity, and the girls use this money to get married. “Sumangali” in Tamil means wedding. I have managed to get into the KPR Mills, one of such companies – and to collect a series of portraits of teenage girls at work.

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