Garmentmaking is the backbone of Bangladesh’s cash-strapped economy, accounting for annual exports worth $24.3 billion last year, about 80 percent of the country’s earnings. Lethal factory fires — including the Nov. 24 blaze at the Tazreen Fashions factory, which resulted in 112 deaths, and a Jan. 26 fire at Smart Export Garments, which killed eight — have claimed more than 500 lives since 2006. Despite protests and pledges of reform, activists say what remains in place amounts to risky business as usual.
Feb. 27, 2013 Finished sweaters await final inspections on the factory floor of Syntex Knitwear in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The facility, registered with the government, employs more than 4,000 workers and exports most of its garments to clients in Europe. Jason Motlagh/For The Washington Post Buy Photo