Hundreds of Bangladesh Garment Factories Shut Down as Women Take to Streets in Dhaka
By Laura Gottesdiener
Source: Waging Nonviolence
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Exclusive stores in Manhattan, London and Milan are busily stocking shelves with the one-shouldered dresses and Miley Cyrus-esque crop tops that were on display earlier in September at New York City’s Fashion Week.
But half a world away, in the city where the western world’s clothes are actually made, the sewing machines have stopped.
More than 300 garment factories are currently shut down in Dhaka, Bangladesh, as hundreds of thousands people — mostly women — take to the streets in the third day of sweeping protests for wage increases in the notoriously exploitative industry.
The latest round of protests began on Saturday, when approximately 50,000 women rallied in Dhaka to demand a wage increase to just over $100 a month. The rally appeared to have been aimed at actually stopping production rather than making appeals to public officials or the international community. About 10,000 women blocked the highway about 18 miles north of the capital city, halting traffic. Many of the remaining 40,000 women rallied outside various factories, forcing them to close operations for the day.
The demonstrations continued to grow on Sunday. By Monday, the police chief of the region’s industrial district reported that about 200,000 people employed in the garment industry were demonstrating in the streets, prompting the closure of some 300 factories that supply clothing to Walmart and other western companies. The desired wage increase, up to $103 a month, would represent a more than doubling of the women’s current salaries, which averages about $38 a month.