‘Are you a #fashionvictim ?’ is a campaign led by Stop the Traffik targeted at eliminating the trafficking of people, especially women and girls, for cheap labour in the fashion and textiles industry.
In Australia, Stop the Traffik is led by a coalition of non-government, community and other organisations working together against trafficking in Australia and around the world.
It is not well known that over 200,000 young women and girls are trafficked to work in the cotton industry in the Tamil Nadu region of India.
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, they are essentially trapped within a factory for up to five years.
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, six 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.
It is not currently possible to know which items or which shops sell items that are made with cotton that is free from human trafficking. Most retailers and fashion labels either don’t know where they buy their cotton from or choose not to make that information public.
The Stop the Traffik includes information on how to take action with Australian companies.