Since 2015, the Freedom Fund has been working with frontline non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Tamil Nadu, in Southern India, to combat bonded labour and labour exploitation within the textile sector through community organisation, as well as government and business engagement.
Using a “hotspot” model of concentrating resources in communities with high prevalence of bonded labour, often subject to intense socioeconomic deprivation and marginalisation, the Freedom Fund and its partners have provided community-based, policy and business interventions to achieve the following objectives:
1. Increase community capacity to prevent bonded, forced and child labour
2. Support survivors in rehabilitation, and attainment of viable livelihoods
3. Improve brand and supplier practices in deterring bonded, forced and child labour
4. Improve the policy environment to support the advancement of women’s rights and labour rights
5. Increase community, government and industry awareness of labour exploitation and improve accountability.
In Tamil Nadu, local employment is centred on the textile industry. Local spinning mills, power looms and handloom units employ thousands of low-wage workers and produce for domestic and international markets.
Employees in spinning mills, a large proportion of which are young women and girls aged 14 to 20, can end up in conditions of bonded labour and suffer harassment, abuse and infringement of rights. Dalit or other lower-caste communities are at increased risk of exploitation.