I have to admit, before this past Friday, I had never really given much thought to where my clothes have been made. I knew that they were manufactured in some country far away, but that a word like “slavery” could be tied to the clothes I wear everyday had never even occurred to me.
On Thursday in class, we continued our discussion involving slavery in the United States in the 1800’s. It was hard to imagine that a “progressive” country like the United States could of ever allowed that to happen just about 200 years ago. However, after the class discussion in class on Thursday and reading the front cover article in the New York Times on Friday morning it is now occurring to me that the United States support of slavery 200 years and even today, is not so hard to believe.
The New York Times article by Jim Yardley discusses a horrible garment factory fire in Ashulia, Bangladesh where 112 workers were killed last month. The factory called Tazreen Fashions, made clothes for major retailers like Walmart, Target, and Sears. The factory itself was a dangerous place to work, according to the article, “Fire safety preparations were woefully inadequate” and “Mounds of flammable yarn and fabric were illegally stored on the ground floor near electrical generators.” Clearly, this factory was far from prepared for such a fire and because of that, the result is the loss of 112 innocent people. However, who’s responsibility was it for the factory to be prepared? Tazreen Fashions or Walmart, Target, and Sears?
As tragic as this event was, it should not of come to a surprise to anyone. This type of event has happened repeatedly. The first major event like this was in 1911 with the Triangle Factory fire with the death of 146 people. However, the main question to be asked now is if Americans will take action against future factory fires like this. It would be easy for Americans who shop at stores such as Walmart, Target, and Sears to demand better conditions and pay in the clothing factories that produce their clothes. But are Americans willing to give up their $5 t-shirts or $10 jeans so that workers in these factories can have basic human rights given to them? How many more people are going to be killed in horrific garment factory fires before Americans take action?