The fashion industry manages enormous proportions. Production volumes have grown at a breakneck pace over the last 20 years. The pressure to reduce costs and consumers' desire to acquire more garments has led companies to get hooked on tainted production processes involving practices such as employee exploitation and environmental pollution.
In recent years, the business model of major fashion brands and retailers has resulted in accelerated production and sales – because of low prices, discounts, and sale seasons – and more discarded clothes. This model has put immense pressure on suppliers to produce more clothes in shorter time frames for meager prices – at the cost of garment workers. The reality is that the textile industry is the leader in human rights violations and environmental abuses.
After the acknowledgment of these data, the Good Clothes Fair Pay association set in motion last July a call for help to provide garment workers with the tools to demand legislation and to introduce effective laws on their living wages. A project intended for all EU residents that seek up to one million signatures in one year.
Women’s rights, a neverending story
For many years, countless fashion houses have claimed to provide their workers with at least the bare minimum wage as a reward for their job, although, far from the truth, most of them don't even earn minimum monthly sustenance.
Statistics have claimed that garment workers, specifically women, earn 45% less than what they would need to have access to basic rights such as public healthcare or adequate housing among others. In some cases, their salary is not even enough to assist their families or their children, all to give a response to the demands of the so-called fast fashion.
Most of them work 14-16 hours a day to make ends meet, plus, 1 out of every 3 women experience or have experienced sexual harassment in their workplace. The harsh reality experienced by the ones exploited by the garment industry.
Children alone, absent from school, working, and begging in the street. The cycle of poverty. Familiar incomes are not enough to guarantee their education, clothes, or even proper nutrition, thus creating an increase in the flow of employees who start this cycle at a much younger age. Labor exploitation is a widespread crime extended to every continent in which its victims are predominantly children and women, often forcibly detained by mafias related to human trafficking.
It is time not to look the other way. To focus on supporting them, listening to them, and actively associating with them. To give them the voice they carry inside and to start looking at fashion from another perspective, stopping being accomplices to become the engine of transformation towards, at least, decent conditions, being aware that our purchasing decisions not only affect us but also affect the lives of millions of women and children working in this industry.
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