Thought the collapse of an eight-story garment factory in Bangladesh killing 348 and injuring more than 1000 workers couldn't get any worse? Think again.
The Telegraph is now reporting that a female factory worker was forced to give birth while being trapped under a pile of concrete pillars. When she was found, the baby was crying and the umbilical chord was still connecting them.
"The lady who gave birth to a baby boy was rescued on Wednesday after six hours," her rescuer Rescuer Didar Hossain said. "She gave birth while inside the building. She was about 26 or 27 years old. When we found her, she said, 'Please save my baby first,'" the rescuer continued.
The mother and her baby boy thankfully only suffered light injuries and were later reunited with their relatives.
This story is a chilling reminder of the horrifying conditions that female garment workers have to suffer through. Most garment workers are women because they "offer a low-cost and compliant labour force that allows the garment industry to compete in the global market." Not only are women over-represented in an industry that exploits its workers, they also suffer from an additional amount of discrimination because of their gender. When women aren't fired for being pregnant, or have to sign a contract that forbids them from becoming pregnant, they are forced to work in horrendous conditions that can put them and their baby in danger. This Bangldeshi mother's story is an extreme example of the vulnerabilities that female workers face in an industry that profits off the exploitation of vulnerable low-income women. According to the CBC, the average worker in the Bangladeshi factory was only paid 38$ a month to create the clothes that top brands are selling overseas for much more than that for a single T-shirt.
The last massive factory incident in Bangladesh only dates back to November, and an investigation later found that Wal-Mart deliberately chose to ignore safety concerns of the building because it would 'lead to higher costs.' This time around, five people associated with the management or construction of the garment factory have been arrested and are expected to be charged. The owner of the building is still on the run and police have arrested his wife in an effort to get him to surrender.
Many retailers such as Primark and Wal-Mart are already distancing themselves from the incident in Dhaka, saying that none of their clothes were manufactured in this specific factory. A further investigation will tell if their clothes were being unofficially produced in Dhaka. For now, the CBC is reporting that "among the garment makers in the building were Phantom Apparels, Phantom Tac, Ether Tex, New Wave Style and New Wave Bottoms" and that "altogether, they produced several million shirts, pants and other garments a year." For instance, New Wave Style produces "clothing for several major North American and European retailers."
Will the brands that were being manufactured in the Dhaka factory take responsibility? Will this tragedy make customers think twice before buying apparel that reads "Made in Bangladesh"?
What do you think? Let me know on Twitter: @feministabulous