2nd Session, 41st Parliament,

Volume 149, Issue 65

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

Rana Plaza Factory Collapse

First Anniversary of Tragedy

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I would like us to reflect on a fact: Regardless of the curve balls that get thrown at us on a daily basis, there is a consistency in our going and coming to work. On April 24, 2013, 18-year-old Shapla went to work the same way she did every day, expecting the day to go as it typically did at the garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Nothing could have prepared her for what happened that day. To the rest of the world, we know it as the Rana Plaza collapse, the torturous day when over 1,100 people were killed, most of whom were women.

The collapse of the five factories in Rana Plaza shocked the world, but that is nothing compared to what it did to the people affected by the event. In Shapla’s case, she ended up one of the “lucky” ones. She made it to the emergency room in time after the collapse and survived, but had her hand amputated.

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To Shapla, though, lucky is hardly the word to describe her fate. Now she certainly cannot work in the job she used to have. She is a young mother and providing for her child is a priority. Even if she could work at a factory again, she is likely experiencing trauma that would prevent her from entering a factory again.

Additionally, being handicapped carries a stigma in Bangladesh. Women like Shapla are facing personal struggles from within as well as personal attacks from outside actors, including their families.

It has been just over a year since this devastation occurred and the world is already forgetting its duty to the people affected by the Rana Plaza collapse. Compensation for them has only in part been made and while the rest is held up their lives go on in much more of a struggle than before the event occurred — an event they had no control over yet one that could have been prevented.

Functioning off money from charities instead of from the government or companies responsible for compensation is inexcusable one year in. But the fact remains that not enough money has been contributed to the Donors Trust Fund.

As the victims of this tragedy wait for the compensation they deserve, we must put pressure on the Canadian companies that sourced the factories in Rana Plaza to contribute to their financial compensation. Most importantly, let us not forget that in Canada we are able to buy the garments the factories are making cheaply.

Honourable senators, let us not forget the garment workers in Bangladesh.

 

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