Part Two of Senator Jaffer’s Blog Series on Bangladesh’s Garment Workers. (Part One: Bangladesh’s Garment Workers: Safety is Paramount)
Regardless of the curveballs that get thrown at us on a daily basis, there is a consistency in going to and from work. On April 24, 2013, 18-year-old Shapla went to work in Bangladesh the same way she did every day, expecting the day to go as it typically did at the garment factory.
But 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 5 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.
To Shapla, though, luck is hardly the word to describe her fate. She certainly cannot work the job she used to have now, and she is a young mother so providing for her child is a priority. And even if she could work at a factory again, she is likely experiencing trauma that would prevent her from entering a factory again. Many of the women that were affected by the collapse are suffering from a serious mental crisis along with the physical damage that has been done. Additionally, being handicapped is not an easily accepted fate in Bangladesh, so 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, and 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 companies that sourced to the factories in Rana Plaza to contribute to their financial compensation. And, most importantly, we must not forget about this matter until the victims are compensated, and the standards of garment workers are elevated around the world.