Photographer Sharmistha Dutta, commissioned by C&A Foundation, sheds light on forced and child labour, as well as women’s inequality within the fashion industry in India. Here she shares with us the incredible personal stories of love, struggle and hope for the future from the individuals she has encountered.
Pushpa is the eldest child of a tea plantation worker, she has faced and overcome extreme hardship in her life. Her mother passed away when she was only 6 years old, shortly after her mother’s death, her father became mentally ill. At that time, her younger sister was only four and Pushpa became responsible much of the household responsibilities.
At the age of 11, Pushpa worked as a domestic maid in the residence of the tea estate owners. After finishing her daily chores in the morning, she would attend school and then afterwards return to work for the afternoon.
After much difficulty, she successfully completed the 10th grade, and at the age of 14 began working in Tirupur at a garment factory. At this job Pushpa would suffer from body aches and pain due to the excessive workload. Eventually the working situation became so unbearable that she was forced to quit. Pushpa returned home and with the support of her neighbours completed her high school education.
While she was completing her studies, to support her family, she began working in a textile mill. It was while working at the textile mill that Pushpa was introduced to TDH and Care -T team. Through their program Pushpa was enrolled in college and began receiving financial support for herself and her family. The program also enabled her younger sister to continue her education. Pushpa has since gained a lot of confidence and actively participates in counselling, life skill education and other programs. Her ambition is to gain a degree and have a better job.
Pushpa’s story reminds us of the incredible resilience of the people who work in the garment industry. At C&A Foundation, we remain committed to working together with partners like TDH and Care-T team to make fashion a force for good. To see more images from Sharmistha visit our Instagram account.