On April 24th of this year a factory collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh, killing more than 1,000 people who were just desperately trying to make a living of about $1.50 a day. They worked obscenely long hours for this money in an overcrowded building with no air conditioning, outdated and dangerous equipment and unhealthy drinking water. All the exits in this building were on the same side and there were very few windows. Not that anyone could have gotten out anyway. It was all over in less than 10 seconds, and the deaths of these people were every bit as horrendous as their lives had been.
The question is, why are we not still talking about this? Why are we not outraged, disgusted, horrified? If this had happened in America it would be a scandal of epic proportions. We’d be talking about it for decades. There would be legislation, there would be investigations, there would be a massive outpouring of support for the victims’ families.
Is the desire for low cost T-shirts really that much greater than the sanctity of human life? Is it that we feel that all non-American lives are insignificant? People in Bangladesh died? Sorry to hear that. Next!
American companies that buy from these factories do insist on a certain level of health and safety standards, but in order to make a profit these standards are overlooked. And we know it. Let’s not upset the apple cart. Wink, wink.
I’m not suggesting that we boycott Bangladeshi products. Good God, if we do, they’d starve to death. The workers don’t deserve that. But these health and safety standards have to be enforced. And it is estimated that if we would be willing to pay just 10 cents more per garment, these factories could be retrofitted and the health and safety of these workers could be achieved. Are you willing to pay 10 cents more for that? I am.
Meanwhile, even as you read this, the factories of Dhaka continue to grind out their products, grinding their workers down at the same time, ensuring that their lives are nasty, brutish and short.
And we’re not talking about it. Shame on us.