Sumangali: Eradication of extremely exploitative work conditions in south India’s textile industry


CARE-T (Community Awareness Research Education Trust): The project´s executing agency CARE-T has been addressing the issue of exploitative child labour in businesses supplying in the textile industry in Tamil Nadu since 2002.

Short description

Termination of the Sumangali system as a form of extremely exploitative working conditions in the Indian textile industry, rehabilitation of the victims of Sumangali and prevention of further recruitments under the scheme at the most important textile production locations in Tamil Nadu.

On the basis of previous work, Sumangali is to be tackled at three levels.

  • 24,000 girls at 12 project locations who have been victims of Sumangali receive access to professional treatment and care in the form of psychosocial/medical care, education/training and representation with regard to legal claims
  • Reduction of exploitative recruitment under Sumangali in 12 blocks of the direct project area and 48 blocks of the enlarged project area (micro level)
  • Expansion and implementation of existing guidelines on recruitment and working conditions through a multi-stakeholder dialogue supported by the German Textiles Partnership (meso level)
  • Raising a draft law in the legislative assembly in Tamil Nadu to bring about a debate on ending the Sumangali system

The partner organisation CARE-T has been working intensively on the Sumangali principle since 2007. The project to rehabilitate Sumangali victims that was operated by CARE-T from 2011 until 2015 achieved very good results.


External evaluation of the pilot project, which focused on rehabilitation and prevention, fully confirmed its relevance, efficiency and effectiveness and underlined the immensity of the need for care and rehabilitation of Sumangali victims. The evaluation noted that the number of Sumangali victims supported in the pilot phase was almost ten times higher than originally predicted.

The evaluation confirmed the project’s approach to rehabilitation. Measures such as reintegration into formal schooling, vocational training and capacity building to boost self-confidence have been shown to be effective in reducing the recruitment of girls under the Sumangali system.

The achievements of the first phase include:

  • Around 10,000 girls and young women freed from Sumangali contracts and placed in schools and training centres;
  • The health of those involved improved in 100% of the cases cared for;
  • Comprehensive psychological support for Sumangali victims.

Sumangali: Eradication of extremely exploitative work conditions in south India’s textile industry

Country / Region:
India / Tamil Nadu

Project running time:
2016 – 2019

Project partners:
Terre des Hommes, CARE-T

Barbara Küppers

terre des hommes: Sklaverei in Mode

© Heinz Wüppen

© Heinz Wüppen

As of: March 2018