The collapse of Rana Plaza sent tremors across the world and once again made people aware of the exploitive nature of globalised industry of which the garment sector is a major part. As producers of apparels for world’s renowned brands, Bangladeshi workers have long been deprived of their rightful wages as well as an environment where safety and security would be ensured. On the 6th anniversary of Rana Plaza collapse, Rashad Ahamad spoke to advocate Mahbubur Rahman Ismail, labour leader Taslima Akhter and injured victim Yanoor Akhter
Rana Plaza victim Yanoor Akhter, who was injured during the collapse, said that her survival now meant nothing but sufferings as various physical and mental complexities devastated her over the last few years since she had sustained the injuries.
Yanoor, now 22, was rescued three days after the collapse and was given treatment at different hospitals immediately after the incident as she sustained severe injuries in the legs, head and chest.
Yanoor went to her village in Barishal in 2017 on crutches, after she was released from Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed at Savar.
She married a mason named Sarwar Hossain Shakil in March 2018 and the couple now lives at Arapara, Savar.
It is difficult to continue her family life as her pains returns from time to time. I cannot afford proper treatment, she said.
‘I cannot move without assistance from others. I cannot sleep at night, cannot do any household works,’ she told New Age in front of the collapsed Rana Plaza at Savar on Wednesday.
The eldest daughter of Yunus Munshi, Yanoor said that because of financial crisis she could not continue with her medications.
‘To this day, I need a huge sum of money to buy my medicines,’ she said, adding that her treatment was suspended many times over the last few years due to her inability to afford the medicines as her financial crisis continued.
My mason husband and farmer father could not support me, she clarified.
She said that CRP gave her shop management training but she had not been able to run a shop because she did not have money. Her health condition also did not allow her to do such work.
She urged the government for a job for her husband who completed his education up to level 11, so that he could earn enough to support her and also buy her the necessary medicines.
She said that she passed many sleepless nights as her pains increased manifold under irregularities or following household works.
Yanoor received only Tk 3 lakhs as aid from different individual and Rana Plaza Claims Administration, but the money had already been spent.
‘If I were capable enough, I could have earned and bore the expenses of my family, but now I am a burden to my family,’ said Yahoor in a voice laden with despair.
She said that when she was a garment worker she had supported her father and her five siblings but after the accident she became a burden to all.
For this injured victim of Rana Plaza, who cannot do any household chores even after six years of the incident, life seems hostile and she feels that she could not hope to continue to live as a burden for the rest of her life.
Yanoor, with tears in her eyes, said that she wanted to forget about her past life when she could walk, play, jump — the life she lived before the disaster.
Several hundred survivors and families of the victims gathered to commemorate the tragedy that left 1,138 people, mostly apparel workers, killed and over 2,400 injured on April 24, 2013.
Yanoor lamented that she was not aware of the sins she had committed to the Almighty that He has given her such a punishment.
She demanded punishment of the people responsible for her miserable life.
She also urged that government should ensure rehabilitation of the victims after giving them proper treatment.
‘Is it that the government cannot ensure safety of the workers in industries?’ Yanoor posed a pertinent question.
She said that her life would have remained beautiful if she was not critically injured in the incident in the worst industrial disaster of the world.
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