Bangladesh reality VS Fashion week glam

8 days ago in news

I Took Bangladeshi Photographer Activist Taslima Akhter to New York Fashion Week—Here’s What Happened

By Maya Singer, Vogue, October 2018


One way to tune back into the oddities of Fashion Week is to invite a newcomer to a show. In New York, photographer and activist Taslima Akhter accompanied me to Maryam Nassir Zadeh’s défilé in Tribeca. Her view of the fashion world has been very different from mine, and from most fashion showgoers’: Based in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Akhter is immersed in the world of garment workers.

“I wish people knew that we’re fighting for a higher minimum wage right now,” Akhter told me. And when she said “right now,” she meant it literally: Nassir’s show was September 12; the day after, poobahs in Bangladesh came out with a proposal for a minimum-wage hike ahead of the country’s general election in December. Advocates for the garment workers were asking for a monthly minimum wage of about $190 a month; the proposal from the government came in at $95.

The vast majority of low-wage workers in Bangladesh labor in the garment sector, and the last time they got a raise, it was in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza disaster. The minimum wage, at present, is $63 a month. For context, the generally agreed living wage for a worker in Bangladesh is approximately $250 a month, based on the cost of lodging (a room in a slum runs $30 a month, at least) and the caloric requirements of the average Bangladeshi. No wonder that garment workers sign up for backbreaking overtime—it’s the only way they come close to meeting their basic needs."

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