By Arubiyyah Qadir Balouch
Bangladeshi director Rubaiyat Hossain presents “MADE IN BANGLADESH” a film about a girl named Shimu, who works in a clothing factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh at age 23. The story revolves around the difficulties she faces at work and how the workers are treated and hence decides to start a union with her co-workers.
The film is inspiring to see how the women in Bangladesh stood for their rights despite threats from the management. Shimu faced these threats as well as her husband did not approve of her fight against the factory however despite all odds, she goes ahead to start a union for the workers.
Shimu (played by Rikita Nandini Shimu) works in a clothing factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Faced with difficult and dangerous working conditions, she decides to start a union with her co-workers. In the face of threats from the management and disapproval of her husband, Shimu is determined to go on. Together, the women must fight and find a way. A meeting with an activist, Nasima (Shahana Goswami), makes Shimu think about starting a union with her coworkers. This union would mean losing their jobs, which Shimu has to try convincing her coworkers to do. This movie also shows the union amongst the women of the factories in order to achieve this.
The director, Rubaiyat Hossain is a debuted as a feature filmmaker with Meherjaan in (2011), a story about a Bengali woman’s love affair with a Pakistani soldier during Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence. Rubaiyat’s next film, Under Construction (2015), was released in 2015 and tells the story of an urban middle-class woman in an unhappy marriage.
The apparel industry of Bangladesh started its journey in the 1980s. According to Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), one of the largest trade associations in the country representing the readymade garment industry, although it started in 1983 with only 12 members, currently it has 4,621 member factories. A total of 3,856 factories have been identified as operational‑only 3.8% out of 3,856 factories are unionized. About 3.6 million workers are reported to be employed there. 53% of them are female and 47% are male. But when it comes to the sewing machine operator, a whopping number of 80% are women. The average age of workers is 25. Rubaiyat Hossain has focused her story on the plight of women in the factories and how they are treated by management.
Rubaiyat has worked for prominent women’s rights NGOs in Bangladesh such as Ain O Salish Kendra and Naripokkho. She was also the co-coordinator for the first international workshop on Sexuality and Rights organized by BRAC School of Public Health in 2007. Hossain was inspired by films such as Rosetta and Norma Rae and MADE IN BANGLADESH’s main character, Shimu is based on the real-life experiences of a Dhaka garment worker.
A well written and directed film, and a must see. For more information on Made in Bangladesh, go to http://www.filmswelike.com/films/made-in-bangladesh and for tickets information please visit https://watch.eventive.org/filmswelike/play/5ecff37ae81a4300627f39d6