To: dido.pilgrim@gmail.com

From: radhamma@imakeyourclothes.in

Hi Dido

Thank you so much for the invitation to Little Miss’s birthday party. I can’t believe that she is going to be one already! It’s wonderful that she is going to be wearing the dress I made. I’m absolutely thrilled that you loved it. You’re right – blue denim and pink is such a winning combination.

IMG_1675

This dress is 100% cotton and made in India. It’s very likely that it was made at the Best Corporation, one of Mothercare’s leading suppliers. The Best Corporation is situated in Tirupur, Tamil Nadu – a region in South India which is well-known for garment production. 

I’m so sorry I can’t make it but I will be working. But don’t panic! It’s not forced overtime anymore. Things have really changed since the Flawed Fabrics report came out. Life is much better.

The Flawed Fabrics report was published in October 2014 (when Small Boy was nine months old) and highlights human rights violations faced by the young women and girls working in the factories and mills in Tamil Nadu. 

In Flawed Fabrics, Best Corporation workers are recorded as saying that: 

  • They were forced to work overtime.
  • They worked more than 60 hours per week.
  • There were not enough toilet breaks. 

However, Best was the only factory investigated where workers were occasionally allowed to leave the grounds. 

I’m just doing some overtime to earn a bit more money to send back to the village for my parents.

The young women and girls who are recruited to work in the garment sector in Tamil Nadu are usually from impoverished rural villages whose families desperately need the extra income and one less mouth to feed. 

You’re so lucky having your family close by. I miss mine so much but at least I can call them on my mobile for a chat.

Flawed Fabrics states that in many of the factories and mills, the young women and girls (the workers are mainly female and the supervisors male) were not permitted to use mobile phones and could only telephone agreed phone numbers. Best employees were the only workers who were allowed to have mobiles. 

Children grow so quickly, don’t they? It won’t be long until that dress is too small for her! I wonder what you’ll buy next?

I wish Little Miss a very happy birthday.

With love from Radhamma

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PS: It’s going to be my birthday soon too. I will be 18.

A more recent report (2016), Forced Labour in the Textile and Garment Sector in Tamil Nadu, South India: Strategies for Redress by Dr Annie Delaney and Dr Tim Connor,  states that in 2012 the Tirupur People’s Forum estimated that the majority of the female workforce were younger than 18 years old with many less than 14.


Hi Radhamma

Thank you so much for your email. I’m glad that life has improved recently. To be honest, it’s been hard to find out what your working and living conditions are actually like. I’d like to see your factory and hostel for myself.

According to the Forced Labour report, human rights violations still exist in the Tamil Nadu garment industry.

I’d like to visit you, to meet you face-to-face and to say thank you for all the clothes you have made for Small Boy and Little Miss over the last three and a half years: the everyday vests, the tiny sleepsuits that were worn for what felt like five minutes and the special occasion clothes, such as the denim giraffe dress that I knew I just had to buy as soon as I saw it.

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I hope that conditions have genuinely improved since Flawed Fabrics was published. I’m pleased to read that Mothercare now release an anti-slavery statement and earlier this year sent out a Responsible Sourcing Handbook to all suppliers.

I’m reassured by their new factory assessments programme:

‘The assessments include initial factory reviews on proposed factories and follow up visits with active factories.

‘The top issues identified were excessive working hours, too many consecutive working days, issues over minimum wages or overtime payments and health and safety issues. In these instances an appropriate corrective action plan was put in place and active factories received a follow up visit and on going support.’

It’s good to read that Mothercare’s suppliers in ‘vertically owned supplier mills’ have agreed to only hire workers who are 18 or older.

It does look as if conditions are changing for you and I hope they continue to do so.

Love, Dido x

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