Women’s Day Wonder: TOFU — The clothing brand with a conscience
The brainchild of three 27-year-old engineers Pritham Raja, Soumil Surana, and Adarsh Nungoor, Tofu (Threads of freedom & u) is clothing brand that represents and supports the cause of its parent company ToF (Threads of Freedom), whose aim is to rehabilitate and reintegrate victims of sex trafficking back into society.
If you take a peek at the current Indian market, there are scores of brands that claim to make a difference in one way or another. Tofu, though, walks the talk — and how. The brainchild of three 27-year-old engineers Pritham Raja, Soumil Surana, and Adarsh Nungoor, Tofu (Threads of freedom & u) is clothing brand that represents and supports the cause of its parent company ToF (Threads of Freedom), whose aim is to rehabilitate and reintegrate victims of sex trafficking back into society.
“We work with women who have been rescued from sex trafficking and forced prostitution and try to help them start afresh,” says Pritham. “It’s not easy, though. The years of physical and mental agony and torture takes a toll on them — and even after being rescued, the ghosts of the past continue to haunt the women. They’re shunned by society, their own families, and judged by potential job recruiters. We at Tofu aim to ease the process by joining hands with rescue organisations, government agencies, and professional clothing manufacturers in a bid to provide counselling, training, and employment opportunities to these women.”
Soumil, too, says that the carefully planned integration is crucial. “Our main aim is for them to be safe and grow as much as possible,” he says. “Once that is achieved, the next step is to train them and offer jobs that would help them become independent. We ensure that the working conditions are top-notch at all times and the skill required can be learnt over a short period of time. Once the women are trained and subsequently hired, we treat them just like we’d treat other employees. This helps the women maintain their confidentiality, their wages are covered, and our organisation is able to oversee the entire process — starting from hiring, right to the sale of products.”
Only 4% of over 100,000 women trafficked in India get rescued every year. The sorry state of affairs is pitiful and needs to change — and Adarsh claims that you can help Tofu make a difference. “Our brand is for anyone who cares about making a difference to the world,” he says. “If you care deeply about women’s issues and human rights, we make clothing for you. We produce apparels and currently make t-shirts under the Tofu Clothing brand. Tofu aims to bring about a shift in mindset. Our tees are fun, positive, happy, and spread hope. All our designs reflect positivity and hope to bring about social change that we’re striving so hard for.”
Pritham, too, says that the goal is to use the clothing brand to reach out to as many trafficking survivors as possible which will go a long way in helping the women. “We also want to expand our services to other disadvantaged women like domestic abuse survivors and those at high risk of trafficking,” adds Pritham. “Currently we run our reintegration homes out of Bangalore. Going forward, we plan on expanding to Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Kolkata (in that order), followed by Dhaka and Phnom Phen.”
If you wanna read a poignant story of one of the survivors, you can read Pritham’s account of the same.
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