india

{how it's made: indian cooperatives}

There are 20 to 65 million bonded laborers in India, despite substantive and clear laws prohibiting this. A person becomes a bonded laborer when their labor is demanded as a means of repayment for a loan. The person is then tricked or trapped into working for very little or no pay, often for seven days a week. The value of their work is invariably greater than the original sum of money borrowed. The forced labor system is present in many industries and those perpetrators who violate Indian laws to compel the labor of others infringe upon citizens' most fundamental rights. Noonday Collection partners with many different jewelry-making groups in India whose goal is to build long term equitable trading relationships that ensure low-income artisans are truly being helped out of poverty and will not become a bonded laborer. Artisans are paid a livable wage and have safe working conditions, access to healthcare and childcare, and on-going training and education.

Sidhama has been working at one such cooperative for 27 years. Her husband abused her so badly that she ended up in the hospital. While there, a social worker there told her about the jewelry cooperative. The income from her new job enabled her to leave her abusive situation. When she joined the co-op she didn't know how to speak Hindi since she is from Karnataka. Her language skills that she gained enabled her to take on more responsibility, and she now travels all over the city. Her five children are all married. "Before finding this cooperative, I used to struggle a lot. I have now learned how to take steps to make big changes in my life."