The Norman Transcript


May 4, 2013

Bangladesh factory collapse: beyond mourning and money



The question is — is it just an issue of remittance or job market or women’s emancipation? Are the garment factory owners the only culprits responsible for our mourning? We have to think beyond emotional and economic concerns.

Firstly, I think, safety of the citizens is the real concern whether it is a garment factory or the secretariat. So we have to ensure the safety of the homes and workplaces. Not only the Rana Plaza, hundreds of buildings have been built and improvised without proper design and safety measures. Many of our roofs are at optimum tenure, especially in Old Dhaka. We have to identify and restructure those buildings immediately. And proper rescue equipment has become most essential. We should not forget that Bangladesh is near an earthquake zone, let alone the accidents like Rana Plaza.

Secondly, witch hunting for garments owners exclusively will not help to ensure a safe and secure garment industry. The collapsed Rana Plaza of Savar has shown how the nexus of politicians, land grabbers and city development officials built a tower of death. Well, garment owners should have been careful while renting the floors for factories, but isn’t it the city authority’s task as well to stop the illegal building work going on? Isn’t it really the building owner who put hundreds of lives, millions in investments, foreign markets and our hearts and honor at stake? If we just blame the garment factory owner, the real culprits will be smiling, sitting in a safe corner.

Sheikh Rokon is a Bangladeshi journalist and researcher visiting Norman under an exchange program from the U.S. State Department and Gaylord College of Mass Communication and Journalism, University of Oklahoma. Contact him at

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