On April 24, 2013 – at least 1,129 people died when an 8 story commercial building collapsed in Savar Dhaka, Bangladesh and another 2,515 people were injured.  It is considered to be the deadliest garment-factory accident in history.

The photographer who took this picture - Taslima Akhter – explains his thoughts on what he saw HERE:

April 24, 2013, still remains fresh in my memory. At 9 AM when I got the news, I rushed to Rana Plaza. That morning I did not understand what a brutal thing had happened, but within hours I grasped the enormity and horror of it. The day passed with many people helping survivors and taking photos. At midnight there were still many people. I saw the frightened eyes of the relatives. Some were crying. Some were looking for their loved ones.

Around 2 AM among the many dead bodies inside the collapse, I found a couple at the back of the building, embracing each other in the rubble. The lower parts of their bodies were stuck under the concrete. A drop of blood from the man’s eye ran like a tear. Since then, this couple remains firmly in my heart. So many questions rose in my mind. What were they thinking at the last moment of their lives? Did they remember their family members? Did they to try to save themselves?

I keep asking myself whether the dreams of these people do not matter at all. Are they not worthy of our attention because they are the cheapest labor in the world? I have received many letters from different corners of the world, expressing solidarity with the workers. Those letters inspired me so much, while this incident raised questions about my responsibility as a photographer. My photography is my protest.

In Bangladesh – children labor laws are a joke.  Many of the items made for large corporations are made by young children for serf wages.  At the time of the fire – adult workers were making only $38 a MONTH.  After a large strike – shutting down hundreds of factories – workers are now making the full sum of $68 a month (source).  Yes – in an entire month.  That’s every man, woman and child.  Some facts on child labor in Bangladesh via Unicef HERE:

Child labor

Keeping all of that in mind … shitty wages and poor working conditions for workers – this would not have happened were there not basic safety standards in place to protect workers.  But even after the deaths of over 1,000 people including men, women and children – 14 major North American retailers resisted signing the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh which would have required companies to pay up to $500,000 a year for up to 5 years to improve safety inspections and factory conditions.

Those companies are WalMart, GAP, Macy’s, Sears, JC Penney, North Face, Target, Kohl’s, Osh Kosh B’ Gosh, Nordstrom, American Eagle Outfitters, The Children’s Place, and Foot Locker (source).  Every single one of these companies fattened their bottom line profits off of the deaths of innocent serfs in Bangladesh working for table scraps.

Economic imperialism is one of the United States’ greatest exports.

 

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About The Author

Icarus

I am reckless, but I accept my own mortality. It isn't a question of if I will fly too close to the sun so much as when. There's no better time than the present.