Day Thirty: Naushin Nawar (London, UK)
On the 24th of April in 2013, the deadliest garment-factory accident in history led to the death of 1,129 people in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In the aftermath of this accident, many high street retailers in the UK including Primark and Matalan came under fire for their part in the lease of spaces in these crumbling factories. Workers at Rana Plaza were treated poorly, particularly underage girls, with few if any days off, terrible working conditions, and meagre pay to show for it (about $51 per month for an 8am-5pm day – although workers could end up staying until 11pm in order to finish orders on time).
Tragedy on this epic scale was what it took to bring ethical fashion to the fore of the public mind. And although high street retailers have made attempts to make their production chains more transparent, there is clearly still a long way to go. Supply chain audits don’t pick up the extent of abuse in such company factories, meaning we may be buying clothes with the intent of being more ‘ethical’ but with abuse continuing behind the scenes. What’s more, while this is a particular problem in the fast fashion industry, it is certainly not unique to it – nor is it localised to Bangladesh.
What response can we have to injustices like these? For a long time, my solution was to ignore it, and hope for the best. After all, what can one person possibly do? I didn’t like the idea of signing up to a campaign, but having embarked on the Dressember campaign, I’ve realised that it’s so much more than that.
Wearing a dress for 31 days might seem like an odd way to raise money for victims of modern slavery, but the decision to choose a dress over jeans each morning in the Scottish winter does wonders for keeping these issues on my mind. If nothing else, it reminds me to continue praying for mercy in these situations. But as well as that, it gives me a set of lenses to view the world through, and to make conscious choices in light of that. One individual’s campaign might not change the world, but it can shape the way we look at the world, and that’s a good start!
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