child worker in Bangladesh Pacific Press/ Getty Images

Mending Bangladesh’s Garment Industry

It has been three years since the deadly collapse of Rana Plaza brought to light the unsafe conditions in which millions of women in Bangladesh’s ready-made garments sector earn their livelihood. Yet not only do those conditions persist; reliance on child labor seems to be growing – which, paradoxically, may not be a bad thing.


KUALA LUMPUR – Four years ago, the deadly collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh pulled back the curtain on the employment practices of the global apparel industry. We had hoped that the tragedy, which killed more than 1,100 workers – the deadliest accident in the industry’s history – would have brought meaningful change to a business long left to its own devices. Unfortunately, our research suggests the opposite has happened.

Media reports highlight the industry’s ongoing transgressions in Bangladesh, in particular the persistent reliance on child labor. In 2014, the British current-affairs program Exposure found evidence of children as young as 13 working in factories (often under harsh conditions) producing clothes for retailers in the United Kingdom. Another undercover report by CBS News interviewed a 12-year-old girl who obtained a factory job using a certificate that falsified her age. And journalists from The Australian Women’s Weekly found girls as young as ten stitching clothes for top Australian brands.

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