Bangladeshi Garment-Worker Protests: Stories the Fashion Media Won’t Tell

Source: The Nation

Why are fashion outlets ignoring Bangladeshi garment-worker protests?

Twelve days ago, 50,000 garment workers in Bangladesh began a series of demonstrations in and around Dhaka to demand higher wages. For nearly two weeks, they’ve been blocking roads, burning tires, and shutting down factories. Women workers are confronting a multibillion-dollar fashion industry, their abusive and mostly male bosses, and bad-faith trade deals that benefit Western countries and corporations at their expense. They are risking their jobs and lives to face down police armed with rubber bullets, water cannons, tear gas, and batons. By any measure, this is a historic event, and they are heroes.

In recent years, we’ve witnessed the fashion media’s expanding social and political coverage. It’s now commonplace to find—and to turn to—fashion magazines for the news and politics of the day. And these garment workers seem like the kinds of strong women that fashion magazines love to celebrate (especially in the increasingly popular International Women’s Day–themed issues). Yet, when it comes to these protests, US and European fashion magazines have been conspicuously silent. Searching the US websites of Marie ClaireHarper’s BazaarW, Vogue, and, yes, even Teen Vogue, I found no mention of them.

This type of political protest doesn’t easily fit fashion-media conventions. Properly covering this protest would mean implicating fashion outlets and their advertisers in the exploitation that characterizes the value chain. It would mean putting journalistic standards above commercial interests and questioning power rather than promoting it.

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