Mahbuba Akter was on the 7th floor of the Rana Plaza when it collapsed, sustaining injuries to her neck, back and left knee when she fell as the roof caved above her. Nevertheless, the 30-year-old single mother has had to fend for her family and now works at a single-story garment factory as she fears working in high-rise buildings. "Whenever I hear a loud sound around me, I panic. I donʹt know what to do. I feel like Iʹm dying and thereʹs nobody to help me out," she admits.

Mahbuba now earns far less than she did at Rana Plaza, as she has turned down job offers from bigger factories because of her psychological trauma. She hopes to open a tailoring shop one day. However, the few hundred euro donations she received after the tragic incident are not enough to fulfil her dream.

No compensation in sight

Mahmudul Hasan Hridoy was stuck under the debris for 20 hours, resulting in the loss of his right leg. He drank urine and blood from the dead bodies around him to stay alive. His wife aborted their unborn baby and left him after the incident. Having lost everything because of this disaster, he decided to fight for victims like himself and formed an organisation called the "Rana Plaza Survivors Association".

Mahmudul revealed that the victims of the accident have yet to receive any compensation.

"We have received donations from various sources, but no compensation as yet. Each victim of the disaster should receive €48,000 as compensation," he demanded.

Mahmudul believes that the Bangladeshi authorities have received vast sums of money meant for the survivors, none of which has reached the victims. While the victims believe that compensation might help in their rehabilitation, Bangladesh has no standard form of compensation for the death or injury of garment workers.

"A high-level committee that was formed on the order of the High Court in 2013 had submitted a standard for compensation, but the High Courtʹs verdict on the proceedings is pending till now. Thus even after five years, there is yet to be any standard regarding the payment of compensation to garment workers," confirms Farah Kabir.

Despite the Rana Plaza collapse, however, Bangladeshʹs garment industry has been growing at a reasonable speed. The $24 billion generated in garment exports in 2013 is projected to increase to $30 billion this year. The sector contributes nearly 80 percent to the nationʹs total export earnings.

Arafatul Islam

© Deutsche Welle 2018

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