Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Victim 1: My Death Dress

This dress is my Death Dress.  I bought it they day my Mother died to wear to her funeral.  It seemed like an appropriate place to start this journey.  My Mom was a treasure to this world.  She never had a bad thing to say about anyone.  Her smile was huge and her heart was endless.  She left this earth much too soon and I will never get over it.  I miss her every day and every time I wear this beautiful dress I think of her and give her a special twirl.  She would have loved the ruffles and the colors.  It looks absolutely fabulous on me, at any weight.  I will miss it very much.

I purchased this dress at Target.  All that I know about it is what is on this tag.  I was able to dig up this investigative report on the factories that Target uses in China. The report names Target, GAP, American Eagle Outfitters, J.Crew and Talbots and is titled, "Excessive Overtime, Student Workers, and Exploitative Wage Systems", November 30, 2011 by China Labor Watch

"CLW investigators uncovered between twenty and thirty student workers currently employed at the Ningbo factory. A majority of them work in the boxing and assembly workshops. The youngest student worker was found to be 16 years old (born in February, 1995), and had only just graduated from middle school. The oldest of the student workers was 21 years old. He told investigators he will begin his sophomore year of college in the fall. The parents of these student workers were also working at the factory and were the ones that had originally gotten their children the job. Student workers work the same amount of hours and have the same responsibilities as adult employees. However, they receive a significantly lower salary. Students are paid 45 RMB (US $7) for an eight hour shift or 6 RMB per hour (US $0.94). Student workers receive an hourly overtime wage of 6.6 RMB (US $1). On average, student workers are required to work between 3 and 4 hours of overtime per day. Student are required to work on Saturdays and Sundays. The factory does not require student workers to sign a labor contract and does not offer them any social insurance 10 benefits. These student workers told investigators they are often left exhausted by the amount of hours they work."

"Workers at the Ningbo Hesheng factory only earn 45 RMB (US $7) for every 8 hours of work or 5.6 RMB per hour (US $.87) Workers get paid an additional 6.6 RMB (US $1) per hour during overtime hours. Therefore, the investigators concluded that a worker at the Hesheng factory makes less than the township hourly minimum wage."

That youngest student worker is the same age as my son, born in the same year. My son spends most of his time playing video games, playing his guitar and riding his skateboard.  He has no idea what the real world is all about because he doesn't have to yet.  He is a child, doing childish things.  But these children in China already know all about what real life has to offer them.  I just had a conversation with my son today about how he is has everything going for him.  He is American, white, male, smart, good looking and personable.  The entire world is his.  He has no idea that other kids his age on the other side of the planet have no choices, no options, no hope for much more than long grueling days at a sewing machine, or loading boxes, for less than the township hourly minimum wage.

And so I dedicate my Death Dress to these kids in China and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for making me such a beautiful dress to wear on the most painful day of my life. 

No comments:

Post a Comment