The context

78 million of working children on 168 million in the world are Indians. India is the country with the highest number of workers under the age of 14 and with the highest proportion of child labour in dangerous industries (we are talking about teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17).

Tamil Nadu is a state characterized by a progressive and dramatic pauperisation of rural economy, which forces families to depend on their children’s work for survive. In addition, the textile and packaging industries employs and exploits child labour. These industries have seen an impressive expansion in the Tirupur, Trichy and dindigul areas – known worldwide for the processing of cotton in all its stages. Since the 1990s, production has become increasingly oriented to foreign countries, with the cost of products and labour increasingly conditioned by the orders of large multinational brands.

The Indian textile industry has responded to the continuing calls for price reductions by lowering labour costs and reducing wages and safeguards, with the consequence of a progressive impoverishment of workers’ rights, an increase in the female labour force and a reduction in the age of female employees.

Indian families send their daughters and girls to Tirupur, Trichy and Dindigul, usually unwittingly, to work in the local textile industries both as day labourers and as residents in the corporate hostels.

Company recruiting agents, who exploit local intermediaries resident in the villages for this purpose, hires girls. They are inserted in (illegal) working patterns with the promise of a period of work from three to five years that will allow them to save enough money to pay the dowry for the wedding (an illegal custom but still present).

There are many violations of labour rights and human rights suffered by girls: low wages, excessively long work shedules and compulsory overtime (up to 16–20 hours a day), dangerous and unhealthy working conditions, verbal, physical and sexual abuse, lack of medical care, even in the event of accidents at work. Particularly vulnerable are girls who live inside the hostels of the factories.

The recruitment system and the treatment to which these young workers are subjected are a modern form of slavery.


Tirupur, Tamil Nadu, India


Dindigul, Tamil Nadu, India


Trichy, Tamil Nadu, India

The Objectives

The project, lasting 12 months, aims to prevent and combat the use of forced and child labour and victims of trafficking in the textile industry in Tamil Nadu. It also aims to improve the living and working conditions of young workers in the textile sector by helping victims to obtain compensation for abuse. To achieve these goals, the project will involve different actors: workers, businesses, government, trade unions and local communities.

This project also fits into the “I exist” campaign against modern slavery.

Project Details



District of Tirupur,Dindigul,Trichy in Tamil Nadu,


1,000 workers and 20 members of the Children's Parliaments.

The Activities


  • Training and awareness-raising in 40 villages and in five secondary schools about trafficking, child labour, abuse and sexual harassment, labour law, importance and strategies for monitoring working conditions.
  • Training for potential and current workers and their families about financial education, labour legislation, health and safety at work and gender issues.
  • Constitution of 40 teenagers’ parliaments to encourage female leadership and monitor child labour, trafficking and serious abuses in factories. The activity also includes an exchange with similar realities in Italy.
  • Professional training and support for former workers and young women currently employed in the textile industry.


  • Activation of a telephone line for victims of modern forms of slavery and serious violations of labour law.
  • Monitoring and recording of rights violations through regular visits to local communities with collection and analysis of data and case studies.


  • Involvement of enterprises in improving recruitment practices of their human resources and working conditions in factories.

Project Partners: