Monday, 13 May 2013

Sorry, but are you suggesting it's our fault...?

'...making clothes for shoppers in the West...'
This was the comment added in to the report by BBC correspondent Sanjoy Majumder (0.54-0.56) as he described the remarkable survival of Reshma the seamstress in the rubble of the collapsed building in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Dhaka survivor Reshma: 'I did not imagine I would survive'

Now maybe I'm being a little bit over-sensitive about this, but am I the only one who picked up on the rather accusatory tone of the comment by Mr Majumder? It was almost as if he is suggesting that, if we in the West were not obsessed with buying cheap clothes from shops such as Primark, then Ramesh and the 1,000 people less fortunate than her would not have been working in a building that was unsafe and would not have had their lives taken away from them when said building collapsed.
Blame, if it belongs anywhere, is with those who ignored the bloody great cracks in the structure that appeared the day before its collapse, or maybe with Bangladeshi authorities and their inability to maintain any kind of reasonable building standards.
Or does it...?
Perhaps, just perhaps, there is an argument to say that if we, the 'shoppers in the West' did not have the ridiculous expectation (fuelled, it has to be said, by big global brands all trying to undercut each other whilst peddling the 'throw-away' culture) that we should be able to buy 10 tee-shirts for £3, then maybe those same global brands wouldn't be outsourcing production to third-world countries where costs are so much lower because they don't have to provide the same levels of safety, health protection, working conditions, wages, etc and safe buildings that they do in the West...
Perhaps if we all took a minute to think about exactly how the likes of Primark are able to make silk three-piece suits on the other side of the world and ship them over to the UK and stock them in big High Street stores and still only charge £3.95 (with a free silk tie and cotton shirt), maybe we'd start to think twice about whether it is morally correct for us to provide, through our purchases, our tacit approval of the use of unsafe, nay deadly factories in far-off countries where lives are less important than profit.
So, maybe, just maybe, Mr Majumder has a point.