She has been hunched over a sewing machine for eight straight hours. Her scrawny hands tremble as she tries to fix a ribbon onto a chiffon blouse. She is famished, she hasn’t had a chance to nibble on her lunch. Her back is killing her.
But those are flimsy woes in contrast to her supervisor’s stern glare. She could get fired at any moment if he spots her trailing behind. She musters the little strength she has left and puts her nose to the grindstone.
She works in a textile manufacturing company that churns out thousands of clothes each day for the fast fashion industry.
You get the drift, don’t you?
The fast fashion industry is beyond an iota of doubt a feminist issue. Many women and young girls slave away in these factories without contracts or protection from labor laws.
They pay a hefty price so that other women (and men) can be donned in cheap trendy attires.
This article will explore how this tragedy pans out.
What is Fast Fashion?
This is the mass production of cheap, trendy, disposable clothes in a bid to satiate the consumer’s fashion frenzy. Fast fashion clothes are designed to mimic luxury trends in the market. They are cheap and fashionable, making them irresistible to shoppers.
Many fast fashion companies operate through offshoring, the process of shifting their processes to countries overseas in order to take advantage of lower costs. Such countries include India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, China, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines.
Women Bear the Brunt of the Vices in Garment Factories
A report by the Clean Clothes Campaign indicates that women (and sometimes girls) constitute about 80% of the overall number of garment workers.
These factories fancy hiring women as they deem them less assertive. Here are some of the ills that plague women working in these companies.
1. Measly Wages
In Bangladesh, garment workers earn a minimum wage of a paltry $94 ( 8,000 taka) a month. Can you picture that woman trying to put food on the table, clothe and educate her kids using that meager payment? It’s practically impossible!
2. Poor Working Conditions
24th April 2013 was a fateful day in Bangladesh. An eight-story building (Rana Plaza) that housed five garment factories collapsed. It killed 1,132 people with over 2,500 others sustaining injuries.
This gave the world a peek into the hazardous working conditions that garment workers contend with such as unsafe buildings, exposure to toxic chemicals, poorly ventilated workspaces, fires, and workplace injuries.
The coronavirus pandemic has further exacerbated the safety concerns with some of the companies frowning upon the Covid -19 safety measures.
3. Long Working Hours
Imagine having to log in 14-16 hours at work each day, 7 days a week. That’s the fate of many garment workers. What’s more, they squeeze in even longer hours during peak seasons. Ironically, they look forward to working overtime just to scrape off more earnings.
4. Abuse and Sexual Harassment
Many female workers in the garment industry report being shoved around, verbally abused, and even exploited sexually. Granted, some countries like India and Pakistan have laws that address sexual harassment at work. Sadly, these laws are not always adhered to.
What Can We Do?
It’s time to flex our feminism muscle and do our part to help patch things up. Here are two ways to get you started.
1)Don’t get sucked into the fast-fashion craze
Do you really need that dinner dress you spotted on Instagram? It may be cheap alright but how long will it be before it stretches out of shape? Remember with each fast fashion garment you purchase, a woman may have had to give up her dignity to get it produced.
2) Shop from companies that respect human life
It’s not all gloom, there are great companies that uphold human values. Here at CastleWare Baby, our respect for both people and the environment is imprinted in every garment we produce. Our organic baby clothes are meticulously made in the USA and have become the hallmark of safety, comfort, and longevity.