UPDATE: As Death Toll Rises, So Do Protests in Bangladesh
The death toll from a building collapse in Bangladesh on Wednesday has now climbed over 300 as many others are still trapped beneath the wreckage of what used to be garment factories and a shopping center.
Shahinur Islam, a Bangladesh Army spokesperson on the collapse, told reporters that the number of people confirmed dead has reached 304. H.T. Imam, an advisor to the Prime Minister, warned the death toll could exceed 350. Of the estimated 3,122 people in the building at the time of the collapse, 2,350 have been rescued. At least half of those rescued have injuries.
Protests and strikes have erupted in Dhaka in response to the tragedy. Tens of thousands of people marched in the streets of the capital and garment workers went on strike to protest safety conditions in garment factories and call on the government to punish those responsible for collapse. Protests escalated as protesters vandalized cars or other garment factories and police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.
80% of the garment factory workforce in Bangladesh are women who are often responsible for providing for their families. Despite grueling working conditions, workers in garment factories can make as little as $26 a month.
Many of the factories in the building have connections to multiple Western retailers such as Walmart, Benetton and Cato Fashions, the Dutch C & A, British Prismark, and Spanish Mango, among others.
Outrage over the conditions of garment factories in Bangladesh gained international headlines in November of 2012 when 112 workers died during a fire in a factory that was producing clothes for Walmart and other Western retailers. An official investigation ruled that the fire was deliberately started and determined that up to nine officials prevented workers from leaving the building and even padlocked exits.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .