In Capitalistic Economy, Material Worth Supersedes Everything Even the Value of Human Life #Bangladesh
According to the news published in LA Times on 10th May, 2015, a woman in Bangladesh gave birth in a shoe factory restroom after being told she could not leave her job making shoes. The woman, Hamida Akhter, survived but her newborn child was dead on arrival at a nearby hospital. The officials in the Kaliakair Upazila, where the factory, named Apex Footwear is located, said Akhter had asked for leave as she was not feeling well, but her request was denied by her supervisor Ratan Miah. She was later found, with a newborn, in a factory restroom. (Source: LA Times, 10/05/2015)
This heartbreaking incident that occurred at a shoe factory in Bangladesh again nakedly exposed that the liberation of women or women rights are nothing but empty slogans under the capitalistic system; human rights bear no value in real life. The woman who gave birth to her child in a factory toilet was forced to work even after she complained of her discomfort. Her request was denied by her supervisor because in the capitalist economy, profit surpasses the value of humanity.
The garments workers of Bangladesh, 90% of which are women, are nothing but modern day slaves who are forced to work in an environment of continuous harassment, humiliation, exploitation and abuse due to their dire financial conditions and abject poverty. When big multinationals like Wal-Mart, JCPenny, Zara, H&M, Gap, etc. earn billions of dollars worth revenue every year by exploiting cheap labor in Bangladesh and local factory owners are busy making huge profits, these poor women routinely work to death for long hours and receive no more than $40-55 per month (less than $2 a day), which is extremely insufficient to meet their basic human needs and to feed their family. Not only that, in many cases they are forced to work in high risk environments which can even claim their life. The well-known collapse of the Rana Plaza Complex on 24th April, 2013 resulted in tragic death of over 1100 workers, most of whom were young women and girls. A survivor from Rana Plaza claimed that they were forced to work by their superiors, who threatened to withhold their monthly pay on the day of collapse even though the cracks were clearly visible on the walls. This kind of atrocious act is the direct result of the crude materialistic value where material worth supersedes everything, even the value of life.
The truth is, like any other secular democratic countries, a capitalist economy, in which money is only circulated among few wealthy capitalists, have failed to fulfill the basic needs of hundreds and thousands of these poor and helpless women and forced them to earn their own livelihood in an exploitative environment and desperate situations like advanced pregnancy. The Government of Bangladesh left them abandoned with no financial support and turned a blind eye towards their endless inhuman struggles.
We need to understand that the root cause of all the problems of these women workers lie in the exploitative nature of the capitalist economy and also the inhuman nature of capitalist values which allow huge amounts of wealth to be accumulated in the hands of a few and the mass population are deliberately left to abject poverty. This is in sharp contrast to the condition of women under the Islamic economic system, implemented by the Khilafah, where the Khilafah state will ensure all the basic needs of each and every citizen including men and women by establishing a prosperous and just economy based on fair distribution and circulation of wealth within society. Furthermore, the Khalifah will ensure the nafaqa (provision) of every woman through her male relatives or through state so that not a single woman is forced to earn her own livelihood or left alone to be exploited. Also, the Khilafah will ensure, establish and protect all the financial, legal and economic rights of Muslim women given by Allah (swt) including nafaqa (provision), mahr (dowry given by husband), inheritance etc. The judicial records under the Uthmani Khilafah showed us the level of economic prosperity enjoyed by Muslim women under the Shariah, which allowed them to do numerous charity works like: establishing schools, colleges, Masjids, soup-kitchens, hospitals, etc. Lastly, unlike destructive and crude values like materialism and consumerism, Khilafah will nurture taqwa (fear of Allah) among her citizens, which will be the primary barrier of all kinds of exploitation and enslavement of men and women in greater society.
((فَإِمَّا يَأْتِيَنَّكُم مِّنِّي هُدًى فَمَنِ اتَّبَعَ هُدَايَ فَلَا يَضِلُّ وَلَا يَشْقَى * وَمَنْ أَعْرَضَ عَن ذِكْرِي فَإِنَّ لَهُ مَعِيشَةً ضَنكًا وَنَحْشُرُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ أَعْمَى))
“Whoever follows My Guidance shall neither go astray, nor fall into distress and misery. But whoever turns away from My Reminder (That is, neither believes in the Qur’an nor acts on its orders) verily, for him is a life of hardship, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Resurrection.” [TMQ Ta-Ha: 123-124]
Written for the Central Media Office of
Hizb ut Tahrir by
Fehmida binte Wadud