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Abstract

The Bangladeshi readymade garment (RMG) sector is an important feature of the country’s economic development, as it is the highest contributor to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Bangladesh. This industry initiated a revolution in the employment sector particularly through involving women in the workplace, in a culture where employment of women remains rare. While offering new opportunities to women, this sector has failed to ensure a secure and safe working environment for female employees. Consequently, women workers are vulnerable to multiple hazards, frequent disasters, and adverse occupational health outcomes. These vulnerabilities have become a prime concern for national and international communities, particularly highlighted by the devastation of the Rana Plaza factory collapse on 24 April 2013. Within this context, this paper focuses on the existing nature of vulnerabilities produced from the routine work, as is required for women employed in the RMG sector. The study primarily draws on first-hand interviews with women who had direct work-related experiences with the Rana Plaza disaster. The findings suggest that the politicization of the RMG sector, the power of political forces, and factory owner’s tendency toward primitive accumulation (theorized as more money through less investment), are primarily responsible for this unprecedented disaster in the garment sector of Bangladesh. At an individual level, Rana Plaza survivors are still reeling from the disaster and in the absence of political will and social support, are deeply vulnerable to further morbidity and mortality related to this workplace disaster.

Note on the Author

Humayun Kabir - PhD Student, School of Health, University of New England, Australia. Assistant Professor in Sociology, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh

Myfanwy Maple - Professor in Social Work, School of Health, University of New England, Australia

Syadani Riyad Fatema - Lecturer in Sociology, Noakhali Science and Technology University (NSTU), Bangladesh

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