The tragic saga of garments workers continues to mount with no end in sight to the cruel exploitation. How cruel the fate of the most exploited at the lower end of the largest volume of foreign exchange earner can be is illustrated to a large extent by the hapless and well beyond recognition charred bodies of workers of the Tazreen garments factory. Families of the dead workers whose bodies could be identified at least received monetary compensation and did not have to suffer the mental agony on account of lack of identification of their daughters, sisters, mothers or wives. But those families which had the misfortune of not knowing which of the charred bodies was theirs had to suffer doubly because of the loss plus the uncertainty involved -uncertainty of ever performing the last rites every religion makes it obligatory and then over receiving any compensation. Even the injured were handed some compensation although that is meagre compared to the loss suffered.
Mercifully, though the identity of 37 of the unidentified bodies has been detected at last through DNA test. Now at least the families of these victims will be able to take the remains of their loved ones home for burial, if they so wanted. At the same time it would not be out of place to hope that the authorities would expedite the process of paying compensation to the poor families. Sure enough, no amount of money can be a substitute for a human life but given the heartless realities in this country, at least the money can give the affected families some momentary relief from extreme poverty. Notwithstanding the excruciating pain, they will have to survive and the money, if properly invested, can be of help in lessening the grinding poverty.
Clearly, the government has done enough to ensure that the families of the victims at Tazreen Fashion receive at least minimum justice. The DNA test is part of that effort. However, 11 bodies are yet to match any DNA sample. Government officials suspect that those wretched 11 were dissociated from their families or had none in this world to claim as their near and dear ones. Estranged wives or abandoned daughters are not uncommon. The sad tale of marriage at the lower rung of society spawns not only unclaimed and unloved offsprings but also crimes and many other social ills. Girls in the slums are particularly vulnerable to such sexual and socio-economic exploitation.
The 11 unidentified bodies are a proof that life in this land is no better than what stray dogs lead here. Nameless and rootless with no one mourning for these once human beings, they have not even earned the minimum esteem to be given the last rites by their near and dear ones. How undignified and demeaning for human souls! It is exactly where entire humanity should hang its head in shame. Society where such things can happen has no right to claim sophistication and elitism. No wonder, brutality and outrage have replaced fellow feeling and social justice. Any human soul needs to be comforted and given the care it deserves in times of suffering and illness.
Clearly, society could be better organised to do the job if only the privileged and moneyed people had known the virtue of equitable share let alone sacrifice. Owners of garments factories alone can highlight the exploitative mentality that has gone into creating an empire of wealth on the one hand and a fiefdom on the other. Had they felt the humanitarian need to adequately reward the effort of those who have been behind the engine of economic progress in this sector, the tale could indeed be a different one -one that would help pull the disadvantaged from their wretched living conditions.
Editor : Moazzem Hossain,
Published by the Editor for International Publications Limited from Tropicana Tower (4th floor), 45, Topkhana Road, GPO Box : 2526 Dhaka- 1000 and printed by him from City Publishing House Ltd., 1 RK Mission Road, Dhaka-1000.