This is a wonderful story about Kalpona Akter, a fearless woman, who has taken her life in her hands to fight for the rights of garment workers in Bangladesh. The story is titled Fashion to Die For, written by Robb Young and published by Business of Fashion.
If you are a mindful consumer who respect planet and human rights, we highly recommend reading the story cover to cover. We assure you that you will learn and enjoy reading this amazing piece.
In this story, you will learn:
Kalpona Akter is one of the highly profiled union organizers in Bangladesh who advocates for the rights of garment workers.
Senior politicians have branded Kalpona and other organizers “enemies of the nation’ for disrupting the industry that is critical to the economy.
Garment to Bangladesh economy is Oil to Saudi Arabia’s economy. The only difference is how the wealth is distributed in Bangladesh.
Target, Gap, H & M, Walmart, C & A to name a few are among many brands who have sourced from or manufactured in Bangladesh.
“Well, I tell them ‘thank you’ for the jobs you are providing, this is very important. ‘But, we want these jobs with dignity. Have your factories pay a living wage, respect workers’ rights and let them exercise their union rights,” Kalpona said.
Writer: Robb Young
DHAKA, Bangladesh — Kalpona Akter worries when things go bump in the night. Thoughts of calling the police don’t offer her much solace. She has spent enough time behind bars and rubbed enough powerful people up the wrong way in her native Bangladesh to know she needs to be wary of the authorities.
“When I’m inside my apartment and I hear a police siren in the middle of the night, I panic. I know I have enemies,” she says carefully, before continuing with the faintest hint of guilt. “My mum has double fear now because my brother is also a union organizer.”
Kalpona pauses, allowing the silence to envelop her for a moment. You can almost hear her inner debate as she wrangles with how much to disclose and which words to choose. “My life is in danger,” she admits.
Lowering her voice by a decibel, she explains further: “When my colleague got killed, we were targeted together. [Their plan was] if they don’t get me, then they get Babu. If they don’t get Babu, then they get me.”
It takes some coaxing to persuade Kalpona to reveal who she means by “they.” One thing is for certain: “they” is the murderer of Aminul Islam, a labour rights activist who worked with her for years. Kalpona affectionately called him by his nickname Babu.
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