PROGRAM FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
A B Corporation is a company that has been independently evaluated by B Lab and found to meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. By being one of the 2,300 and growing B Corps, Sudara is part of “a global movement of people using business as a force for good.” You can read more in our Impact Report about the good that we are doing through purchases on sudara.org and donations to Sudara Freedom Fund.
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery for the purpose of exploitation. Human trafficking can include, but does not require, movement. While slavery exploits through forced labor, human trafficking entraps people through recruitment, transportation with use of deception, fraud, force and abduction.
When we talk about sex trafficking and sex slavery we are talking about commercial sex acts that are induced through force, fraud, and/or coercion. Many of the women in our partner sewing centers have endured significant trauma and abuse. The majority of women enter the brothels in one of three ways: they were trafficked, born into it and then coerced, or impoverished and forced to repay never-ending debts through bonded servitude.
We believe there’s a place for both, but there’s been a shift in thinking over the years when it comes to seeing sustainable improvement in an impoverished community or issue. While many used to believe donating money was the best and only way, studies and outcomes have indicated a greater impact when there is on-the-ground partnership investing through a community development approach with job skills, empowerment for women and reinvestment in the local economy. This is the guiding philosophy behind social enterprises like ours.
Impacting global poverty starts with women. When you invest in a woman, you invest in her family and community, too. On average, women invest 90 percent of their income back into their families. This includes putting healthy food on the table, paying for their children to go school, or buying healthcare. Not to mention, empowering a woman with safe, nearby employment makes her less vulnerable to abuse, human trafficking, etc.
Human trafficking manifests itself in particular ways in every nation and culture, but India presents a unique situation in which we feel compelled to intervene. Despite legal prohibition, India remains a source, destination, and transit country for victims of human trafficking and is the country with the highest number of trafficked persons world-wide. About 90% of trafficking is internal, with the lowest classes of society most vulnerable, although women and girls from Nepal, Bangladesh, and other Asian countries are also trafficked through the country. It is estimated that there are 3 million sex workers in India.[Sources: TIP REPORT, unodc.org]
We partner with indigenous organizations to establish micro-enterprise sewing centers that offer women a fresh start and place to heal. Also, to be clear, we do not gain employees through participation in forced rescues, raids, etc. Any women who have come to our sewing centers have done so by choice. They are deciding their own path and take pride in their independence. Our role is to provide opportunities to partner with and empower each woman, but not to rescue.
Absolutely. India has child labor laws similar to those in the US – individuals in most cases must be 16 years old to work. Over 95% of the women working sewing Punjammies® are well over 18 years old, with the remaining few being over 16 years old and of legal working age.
We are extremely slow and intentional about selecting the indigenous organizations with whom we partner in India. We always want to make sure that any organization we are establishing a sewing center partnership with is completely transparent with how they operate. We look for like-minded values such as offering a living wage [which is often higher than what would be considered fair-trade and helps guarantee more financial stability for a woman and her children.] We look for organizations who do not require or force a certain world-view upon their employees. While the majority of indigenous organizations we work with are Christian-based. They do not force those views on any of the women working there, and allow them to practice their personal beliefs without harassment or coercion.
As a company, we have a deep commitment to answering questions like this as authentically as possible, so please forgive the extra long answer. Providing a total number of current employees is a more complicated question than one might think. This is due to the regular amount of shifting that occurs within our sewing center partnerships on the ground in India. For anyone specifically curious, this shifting happens because a woman may only choose to stay a short time [a few weeks], while others have been so depleted of resources, support, etc that she might be a part of our community for years. For this reason, a number would have to be tallied daily.
Our most accurate answer is to say that since we were founded in 2006, we have employed more than 2,000 women through our sewing center partnerships within India. What excites us even more is that the majority of women who come to find employment with us have children. We estimate a total impact of more than 500 children as a result. This is the cycle-breaking change we are truly passionate about because it not only means their children have access to education & regular medical care, but it also means they are given an opportunity to have a completely different type of future than they would have otherwise known.
Here’s the bottom line: People need to eat. Women need to feed their children. If the money runs out, a mother will most often do whatever she has to in order to feed her children. There are a number of ways a women enters the sex trade, but specifically in India, it most often boils down to lack of jobs, resources and education, which results in a woman either entering or returning to the sex trade because she simply has no other option to survive. While some women do willingly enter the trade and prefer to remain in it, we focus on those who are looking for a way out and wish to remain out. But more than just having a secure job, we are focusing on empowerment and education that give each woman a chance to develop a trade that she can rely upon long after she moves on from our partner centers.
Our model is not based on a percentage of sales or percentage of price per piece that goes back to the women. Instead, our model is to support and empower the women at the centers from the very beginning. Your purchase helps us continue empowering women and to partner with new centers so that we can empower even more women in the future.
Our sewing centers in India provide living wages. These wages are, on average, double the fair-trade or minimum wage baseline for this type of work and takes into consideration the need to provide for themselves and a family. The women also have access to job training and placement services that afford them the freedom to choose their own pathways.
A living wage and skills-training isn’t enough, though, when you think about the support that someone may need to rise above their current situation. So we donate additional funds that are invested in providing education for the children of the women, safe housing for those needing to escape abuse, health and wellness services, and micro-loans opportunities for those who would like to start their own business once they’ve acquired the necessary skills and experience at the centers. You can read more about our story and impact HERE.