garments industries of bangladesh

Bangladesh’s $20 billion garment industry is virtually the only way out of poverty and illiteracy for the nation’s women and girls. In 2011, about 12% of Bangladesh women from ages 15 to 30 worked in the industry. For many women, the work is worth the risk of dangerous work conditions – including sacrificing an education. Researchers found that before the garment industry, 27% more young girls were attending school.

Read more via Bloomberg Businessweek.

Today in labor history, August 22, 2010: Police open fire and attack with tear gas 2,000 garment workers who block a highway in Dhaka, Bangladesh, for three hours to demand that they be paid overdue wages. In 2010, the garment industry in Bangladesh raked in $12 billion, but the minimum wage for garment workers – working 10 to 16 hours a day under hazardous conditions, six days a week – was $24 a month.

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THE DEADLY COST OF FASHION: RANA PLAZA 

This devastating video, produced by Ismail Ferdous and Nathan Fitch, takes us through the deadly narrative of the Rana Plaza incident last year, the largest disaster in the history of the garment factory industry.

Ismail speaks candidly about photographing the collapse, and the effect our shopping choices have on garment industries in places like Bangladesh. 

He poses a powerful and uncomfortable question:

How does the Rana Plaza collapse relate to our lives?

It’s a question we’ve heard before and knowingly dismissed. I know I have. Turning a blind eye is easy, and eventually means we reach for bargains and cheap clothes without considering the bigger picture. 

By boycotting certain shops and labels, we can stop being active participants in these incidents that are becoming frighteningly common. Okay…so we may not be directly solving the problem of exploitation yet, but being more aware and questioning our choices is definitely a first step. 

I hope this five minute documentary can serve to educate us so we can make informed decisions about the labels we’re buying. 

Watch, and share. 

 - A x