A year has passed since the world was struck by news of the collapse of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, killing over 1000 people and earning it the sombre title of one of the worst industrial accidents in modern history. Today, where once stood a mecca of flats and garment production lots is now a mere pile of rubble, bearing painful memories of the day that shook the fashion industry.
It seemed inevitable that a disaster would occur at Rana Plaza as, merely days before, bankers and shop workers working in the building had evacuated for fear of its safety Sadly however, their fellow occupiers, the garment workers were threatened with losing their jobs if they followed suit and so were forced to remain. Not surprising then that the families of the 1138 men, women and children who died in the accident describe the tragedy as murder.
It took just 90 seconds for the building to collapse. That minute and a half left over 800 children orphaned and 2,500 people injured. These grim statistics are a permanent reminder of the disregard for human welfare in a system that puts the price of gratifying the so called clothing ‘needs’ of the west over the price of human life.
The tragedy may have happened thousands of miles away in Bangladesh but its impact hits closer to home than you may expect; Inside of the Rana Plaza were the clothing factories of some of our most popular household brands including Benetton, Mango and Primark.
It has unfortunately taken such a tragedy for ethical fashion practices to earn right of place in our news headlines, and today it is still demanding attention. Celebrities such as Cate Blanchett have come forward to speak up against the problem.
“As well as the fundamental improvement to our spiritual health, buying with conscience … will have a positive effect. Like climate change, we need to change the way we consume fashion. And if more individuals do then we are able to make a change collectively.”
Today, one year on, and more people than ever are standing up to demand an ethical code of conduct to change the fashion industry for the better. Factories across the globe are increasingly audited, anonymous helplines have been set up for workers and the Bangladeshi government has promised to raise the minimum wage for all garment workers by 77 per cent.
Progress is being Alpha XR and, though small, its effects will no doubt ripple across the world, raising awareness and growing with momentum. Together, we can make sure a tragedy like Rana Plaza doesn’t happen again.
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