Frequently Asked Questions – Sudara

 

Mina Sudara Punjammies

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

PRODUCT FAQS

Are the Punjammies®, robes and slouch pants machine washable? What is the best way to care for these products?
All of our products are machine washable and should be washed/dried according to the instructions printed on the inner tag. We recommend washing products in cool water on gentle cycle.  Although you can tumble dry on low the 100% cotton products, all of the products made with 100% rayon must be line dried to prevent shrinkage.


Are your cotton products pre-shrunk?
No. Please allow about 1/4" shrinkage in our cotton products.


Are your tees and tanks also made in India?
We source our tees and tanks from a few different places, all of whom are trusted for their above-the-bar manufacturing practices and who are WRAP Certified. We are committed to working only with partners who share our commitment to an ethical supply chain for our products. They bear the WRAP Gold certification and perform routine inspections in all of their global production sites. All of our tees and tanks are printed in the USA.


Are Punjammies® pajamas or can I wear them out of the house too?
Punjammies® are intended to be pajamas or loungewear and worn around the house. We hear from many customers, though, who say that Punjammies® are too comfortable to just be worn indoors; they love to dress them up and wear them everywhere they go -- from work to long plane rides to church to dinner with friends.


Is your size chart based on American or Indian sizing?
All of our measurements are in inches and based on American sizing.


Why aren't the women who work in the sewing centers modeling your products?
While we have shared photos and stories of some of the women who work in our partner sewing centers, we've intentionally chosen not to have them or their children model the products for the website. It's a sensitive issue for us. We would love to share every single story and photo of the beautiful, brave, and amazing women. However, we are sensitive to the fact that they have escaped from the sex trade or run away from home to avoid being sold into the sex trade and need to keep their identity private. And, there is a great need to heal from years of psychological and physical trauma. We care a lot about the women in the centers and empowering them to create a new life for themselves. We are not willing to do anything that would cause further harm or exploitation.



PROGRAM FAQS

What is human trafficking?
“Trafficking in persons” and “human trafficking” have been used as umbrella terms for the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 (Pub. L. 106-386), as amended, and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (the Palermo Protocol), describe this compelled service using a number of different terms, including involuntary servitude, slavery or practices similar to slavery, debt bondage, and forced labor. Human trafficking can include, but does not require, movement. People may be considered trafficking victims regardless of whether they were born into a state of servitude, were transported to the exploitative situation, previously consented to work for a trafficker, or participated in a crime as a direct result of being trafficked. At the heart of this phenomenon is the traffickers’ goal of exploiting and enslaving their victims and the myriad coercive and deceptive practices they use to do so. [source: US State Department]


Is human trafficking the same thing as slavery?
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.


How do you define sex trafficking and sex slavery?
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.


Why is it important for companies to get involved on the ground in communities rather than donating money to solve the problem?
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.


How does investing in women help solve a systematic issue?
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.


Why India?
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. [And, trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation continues to be the country’s most common form of human trafficking.
[Sources: TIP REPORT 2014, unodc.org]


How does Sudara find and begin to work with women?
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.


Are all the women who work in a Sudara partner sewing centers of legal age?
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.


How does Sudara determine which organizations they will work with when establishing sewing center partnerships?
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 likeminded 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.


How many women are employed by Sudara's partner centers?
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.


How does having a secure job help women from going back into the sex trade?
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.


What percentage of my purchase goes back to the women who made the products? Do they have benefits?
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.


Where did Punjammies® get their name?
We get this question a lot and are always eager to share the story behind it because much intentionality and cultural sensitivity went into the selection of this name. For cultural/historical context, Punjab is a state in the northwest of the Republic of India which is part of the larger Punjab region spanning into present-day Pakistan. Punjabi refers to the traditional forms of dress worn throughout the region. One of the most common elements of Punjabi dress is a loose-fitting trouser which has several different names depending on whether it is worn by men or women and also depending on the type of occasion or ceremony it is worn for. [for more exhaustive explanation, see Wikipedia.com- Punjabi clothing and Punjabi people]. Over the centuries, this form of dress has extended to regions all throughout India. It was over many cups of tea with our local friends and partners in India, along with research of the etymology and introduction of pajamas into Western culture that we learned the word ‘pajamas’ is thought to have been a derivative of the word ‘punjabi.’ As a result, the name Punjammies® emerged as a name that would pay homage to their country of origin and would come back to directly benefit every woman producing them.

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