Made in Bangladesh, a searing new film by Rubaiyat Hossain, will make us think twice about the garment workers who make clothing for the West. They are mostly women – “because they can be controlled” – and their lives are desperately harsh. When the film’s main protagonist, the courageous Shimu, says “fucking job” – its because a colleague has died in a factory fire, not a bad day at work. Starting a union, which is what the film is about, is not straightforward.
Hossain tells the Guardian: “Too many people think of Bangladeshi women as victims sitting behind a sewing machine, but it is thanks to female garment workers that Bangladesh is now a middle income country. These women aren’t victims, they are often feisty, young, spirited women who are fearless and brave. All that dignity and beauty had to be the starting point for the film”
Part of the Human Rights Watch film festival this is definitely a film to see. Based on true stories, it is beautifully made, transporting the viewer to the hustle and bustle of Dhaka’s streets and alleys and giving us a glimpse of the lives of women and the choices they must make. It is available through Curzon Home Cinema
I won’t spoil the plot but these women are resourceful, dignified and brave.
Yesterday Sylvia mentioned the ‘sack’ and how I’ve now been converted. The absolute truth of the moment is that I’ve had a revelation. I’ve noticed that women of a certain age, especially if they are….more curvaceous, become invisible, to everyone. Especially if self-esteem goes down and they feel irrelevant. For years, I’ve skulked about in, tbh, boring clothes that didn’t draw attention to myself at all; even though I yearned to burst out of the self-made cocoon and wear the joyous clothes that I wanted. This became even worse when I became aware of the environmental and ethical issues revolving around fashion. What was a self-conscious, curvaceous woman with ethical dilemmas to do, except stay with what she’d worn for years, at least that way not adding to the fast fashion?
The ridiculous thing is that I tell my own daughter to not obsess with how she looks, to enjoy life, not wait for the mythical figure to arrive on the scales and have life suddenly be perfect. I look back at photos of myself and I’m appalled at the waste of time I spent agonising over the fact that I wasn’t a size 10. I was lovely! And then…Lo! The arrival of Sylvia, fashion guru and style queen. I saw the Roshan, aka ‘the sack’ and thought….hell,no. Well. Try and prise me out of it now. I’ve worn it on numerous occasions and love it. What’s even more amazing is the comments I get. I walk down the street and people – of both sexes – say ‘morning’, ‘hello’, ‘nice, isn’t it?’ Some have commented on the dress. I am not so shallow as to say it’s the dress, but more like that I’ve discovered ethical fashion, I am doing something that makes me feel better, that I am doing something worthwhile and that I am back to being relevant (as I always felt as a teacher). I feel happy, I am way more confident and I want to wear the clothes that I like, that are more interesting, that are helping towards my own personal campaign for more ethical and environmental friendly. I want to no longer be invisible! And this attitude, is, I think coming through. So it might only be a dress, but it has definitely helped me to redefine myself back to how I used to be. Go, the ‘sack’! Oh and curvaceous ladies….this is a s/m and I’m definitely not that size!