Brutal Bangladesh Sweatshops Exposed
We’ve all heard about the disgrace of sweatshops in Asia and other countries. Until you get first hand news of the horrible conditions in these places, it probably doesn’t seem ‘real’. Well it is. And it’s an ongoing tragedy throughout those countries. Following is an account of what Asian women are going through in these situations, specifically in the country of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh is a country in South Asia that was formerly known as the People's Republic of Bangladesh. Even though the country has gone through domestic and international efforts to improve its economic situation, Bangladesh remains an underdeveloped and overpopulated country. For the majority of people who live there, the annual income is only 0US, and lower still for others.
Bangladesh grows massive quantities of rice, tea and mustard. Although two-thirds of its people are farmers, more than three quarters of the country’s earnings come from exports through the garment industry. The ‘industry’, which employs more than 3 million workers, exports an average of billion worth of products! 90% of of its employees, or slaves if you will, are Asian women.
Rents are very high in Bangladesh, especially for the factory workers who only earn about US per month. To try to make ends meet, many of the women in the rural areas trek to the city’s sweatshops that offer horrible working conditions. At these sweatshops, the women work between 10 and 12 hours a day, seven days a week. That’s not including their additional household duties either.
Needless to say, the atrocious working and living conditions take their toll on the health of these Asian women. As many as 68% of them complain of constant weakness and fatigue which is related to the long hours of work. The second major problem is gastric ulcers which are mainly due to low incomes and irregular eating habits. Chest pain, backaches, eye trouble, headaches and joint pain are other common ailments stemming from their work environment. Asian women working in these horrid conditions are also prone to urinary infections which are a direct result of not having enough access to toilets at work. There are strong restrictions on the number of times they are even allowed to take bathroom breaks.
Believe it or not, these women have a union. The Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers' and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said factory owners had prepared a master plan to start addressing these awful work-place conditions. That is yet to be seen. Sexual harassment is also very common in garment factories and the women there are threatened with being fired if they say anything or try to defend themselves. Exploited at work and living in poverty, many of these female workers have turned to prostitution as a way to make some extra money.
All in all, no matter how much you dislike the job you have, you’ve got to be thankful, at least, that you’re not an Asian woman living and working in Bangladesh.
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