ÖSYM • osym
Sept. 7, 2014 2 min

A garment factory complex in Savar, Bangladesh, Rana Plaza, collapsed on 24 April 2013. The collapse of Rana Plaza, a structurally deficient eight-story building, was a local disaster with global implications. Bangladesh is the world’s second biggest manufacturer of ready-made garments (RMG) after China. The industry is responsible for nearly 80% of the country’s exports, earning $19 billion annually, or about 13% of its GDP (Gross Domestic Product). Some 4 million Bangladeshis – mostly undereducated villagers – work in the country’s RMG trade, making T-shirts and jeans for top international brands. Pictures of the collapse put an intimate face on what is, in Bangladesh, a crucial but poorly regulated and often dangerous industry. In early June 2013, six weeks after Rana Plaza fell, a photographer and a reporter teamed up to trace the backstories of the Rana Plaza survivors and victims to try to learn how they lived and died. What they found out was that Bangladesh’s RMG workers follow a common developing-world pattern: leave the familiarity of the village for the harsh uncertainty of the city in the hope that higher urban wages translate into a better life for their families and for later generations. What sets Bangladeshi garment workers apart is that they lose their lives on the job with depressing frequency.

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