This time last week I couldn’t sew. After having spent 6 hours sat in my room sewing buttons onto a bed sheet, I’m not sure I can claim to have found a hidden talent. The first 10 minutes of the day saw me sewing the sheet to itself… I realised I was in for a long day. A day full of losing needles, pricking my fingers, and generally flapping about on a live webcam stream.
Luckily this day wasn’t about my sewing skills, but about the story of a 14 year old girl named Shima. Shima travelled away from home, to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, and found a job in a clothes factory to try and provide for her and her family. Shima’s job was to stitch buttonholes on jeans and jackets, with many of the clothes she made ending up in UK stores. The fans to cool the workers in this factory were broken, and rubbish piled up on the window ledges.
After work Shima would return to her home in a dangerous slum area, sleep, and then returns to work, having no time for anything else. Dhaka slums are not a safe place, in a single month 31 female garment workers were raped as they walked from their factory shifts to their homes in the slums.That’s roughly one women raped per day.
She would work 12 hour days, sometimes more, six days a week. And now, after working at the factory for 3 years, she earns only £4.40 a week - just half of what would be needed to afford lifes basic essentials such as food, healthcare and accommodation.
(Story from ‘Lift the Label by David Westlake and Esther Stansfield)
I spent only 6 hours sewing buttons onto a piece of fabric to try and get a glimpse of what life for Shima is like, but in reality I didn’t even come close.
This day was part of a campaign called Slaves To Fashion, ran through Tearfund’s Emerging Influencers program. Slaves to fashion aims to improver workers rights in garment factories for people like Shima. Visit www.slavestofashion.co.uk to find out more and get involved.