Beedis are hand-rolled cigarettes made of unprocessed tobacco wrapped in leaves. They are minimally regulated and widely smoked in South Asia. According to the World Health Organization, it is the most popular form of smoked tobacco in India.
In India, studies estimate that women make up 76 percent of total beedi employment, and 99.9 percent of the beedi manufacturing industry is unregistered. Labor in this industry, made up mostly of women and children, is not protected by the government. This means they have no access to a safe work environment, regulated minimum wages, or paid leaves. This livelihood gives mothers money but also snatches away her child’s right to education and good health. A report by Genesis Public Relations found that children in this industry are made to work seven days a week and up to 14 hours a day with short breaks.
This project seeks to unravel the fate of these workers in India and peel away the layers of exploitation they face. A day in the life of a beedi worker will help us know their everyday struggles in deplorable conditions. As beedi workers typically work from homes, the story will also cover the exposure of children to tobacco dust at home, their indirect involvement in beedi rolling, and the health and education consequences.