AHRC: Call for more attention for handloom weavers suffering from hunger and Tuberculosis in Varanasi‏


The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) released a ‘Hunger Alert’ update today regarding the state of poverty and TB amongst handloom weavers in Varanasi, India. According to the report, the weavers are suffering from lack of medical attention, government neglect and extreme poverty and hunger. You can read the entire alert, as well as view a letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health and World Health Organisation calling for their intervention here


What does this have to do with sustainable fashion design?

To say that the textile sector in India is vast would be an understatement. A decline in India’s handloom weaving industry has left these weavers without work to provide for their family, and created a situation where they are too ill to change their circumstance. Human Rights violations against the handloom weavers in Varanasi cannot be ignored. Sustainable solutions must include all aspects of the industry.


On a related note, the Centre for Sustainable Fashion released information this week regarding the Shared Talent: India competition. This competition will showcase sustainable textiles in India. For more information on the competition, see here.


Source:  AHRC and CSF



Mary has a PhD in Sociology from University of Edinburgh, researching responsible fashion and transnational labour rights activism in the wake of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh.

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4 thoughts on “AHRC: Call for more attention for handloom weavers suffering from hunger and Tuberculosis in Varanasi‏

  1. holly pressdee

    dear mary hanlon,

    i have just read your report of the terrible situation the hand weavers in varanasi are currently going through!!

    i am currently finishing my final year of weaving at chelsea college of art, and have specialised and researched into some aspects of sustainable design, and try to combine trends and traditions throughout my work!!

    i am writing to you to ask if you know of any charities or NGO’s that i could get in contact with about helping out in this sector of work.

    i have travelled before and loved getting involved with a different culture and this is where i take alot of my own inspiration from!!

    hope to hear from you soon

    kind regards

    holly pressdee

  2. maryhanlon

    Hi Holly,

    Thanks for your message; it’s great to hear about your weaving work. It sounds very interesting.

    I would suggest you get in contact the Center for Sustainable Fashion, as they are currently accepting applicants for their ‘Shared Talent India’ However, as I understand it, this project is concentrated more on fashion, rather than weaving. Nonetheless, they are both interconnected, and so I would contact them (contact Hannah Higginson at h.higginson@fashion.arts.ac.uk by 18th March 2009). They may at least be able to point you further in the right direction. Also, you may try emailing the program contact in India, at the Pearl Academy (Nien Siao at Pearl Academy at: niensiao@pearlacademy.com).

    Also, check out the group Veranasi Weavers http://www.varanasiweavers.org/, as they may also point you to where you might find opportunity to get involved.

    I hope this helped!

    Good luck to you, and stay in touch!


  3. Holly Pressdee

    hey mary,

    Im so sorry i never got back to you. only now have a i gone back to this page to find your reply.

    The craziest thing now is that i was actually in contact with the people you suggested and am coming out to delhi with the shared talent team in a couple of days time.

    I will also look into the website you suggested.

    Im going to be in delhi until the middle o september, so if you know of any good places to go or people to see, i would love to know them.

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    best wishes


  4. maryhanlon Post author

    Hi Holly,

    That’s great news! I just sent you an email. Looking forward to hearing from you!


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