Campaigners have criticised British retail giants after a 13-year-old Bangladeshi girl was forced to leave school to work in a garment factory, following the Rana Plaza factory collapse that paralysed her mother.
The girl’s story was revealed in a BBC Radio 4 documentary, What price cheap clothes? According to the programme, the girl, Ruma, began working in a factory after the April disaster left her mother unable to walk.
“My mother is very sick”, Ruma said. “I had no option.”
The collapse claimed the lives of more than 1,100 workers.
Campaign group War on Want has reacted angrily to Ruma’s story, arguing that British retailers that sourced products from the stricken factory have yet to provide compensation to those affected.
Murray Worthy, sweatshops campaigner at War on Want, said, “These latest revelations graphically demonstrate the human impacts of high street brands and retailers’ failure to compensate the victims of this horrific tragedy.
“No one should have to send their children to work to feed the family, especially not people who have already been victims to an entirely avoidable disaster.”
According to the documentary, Ruma’s family relies on her £37 a month earnings to survive.
Last week, four high street retailers – Mango, Benetton, Bonmarche and Matalan – were blasted by campaigners for not paying compensation to victims, branding it a “snub“.
Worthy added, “Brands and retailers should have acted to ensure their workers’ safety. Now they must provide compensation to ensure they do not face a lifetime of destitution.”
UPDATE: A spokesperson for Bonmarché said, “At the moment, Bonmarché has no comments with regards to this.” The other brands named in this article were unavailable. For comment.