Precarious Labor

Aruba, Bilal & Sanobar Ahmed, Baldia Town, Karachi

As I walk into the room, I see them sitting waiting for me. Sirjeel Ahmed’s mother Kausar Parveen, his sisters Aruba and Sanobar, youngest brother Bilal and a cousin, Imran all greet me politely and sit back down in silence.

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Aruba, Bilal & Sanobar Ahmed, Baldia Town, Karachi

As I walk into the room, I see them sitting waiting for me. Sirjeel Ahmed’s mother Kausar Parveen, his sisters Aruba and Sanobar, youngest brother Bilal and a cousin, Imran all greet me politely and sit back down in silence.

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Ramzan Yaqoob

Ramzan Yaqoob lost his brother Shahid (24) in the fire of 11 September 2012. Shahid had worked at the factory for about 10 years, and was, at the time of his death, earning around Rs. 9000 a month. This is

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Ramzan Yaqoob

Ramzan Yaqoob lost his brother Shahid (24) in the fire of 11 September 2012. Shahid had worked at the factory for about 10 years, and was, at the time of his death, earning around Rs. 9000 a month. This is

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Rehana Yaqoob

Rehana Yaqoob, a widow, lost her son Shahid (24) in the factory fire – Shahid was earning about Rs 9000 per month at the time of his death. Rehana had raised her two sons by working multiple jobs as a

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Rehana Yaqoob

Rehana Yaqoob, a widow, lost her son Shahid (24) in the factory fire – Shahid was earning about Rs 9000 per month at the time of his death. Rehana had raised her two sons by working multiple jobs as a

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Adam Suleiman

Adam Suleiman’s son, Syed Munawwar (aka Honey) was killed on September 11, 2012 when the Ali Enterprises garment factory caught fire in what became the largest industrial disaster in the country’s history. He was 26 years of age at the

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Adam Suleiman

Adam Suleiman’s son, Syed Munawwar (aka Honey) was killed on September 11, 2012 when the Ali Enterprises garment factory caught fire in what became the largest industrial disaster in the country’s history. He was 26 years of age at the

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Babar Suleiman

Babar Suleiman’s brother, Syed Munawwar (aka Honey) was killed on September 11, 2012 when the Ali Enterprises garment factory caught fire in what became the largest industrial disaster in the country’s history. He was 26 years of age at the

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Babar Suleiman

Babar Suleiman’s brother, Syed Munawwar (aka Honey) was killed on September 11, 2012 when the Ali Enterprises garment factory caught fire in what became the largest industrial disaster in the country’s history. He was 26 years of age at the

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Maria Suleiman

Maria Suleiman’s son, Syed Munawwar (aka Honey) was killed on September 11, 2012 when the Ali Enterprises garment factory caught fire in what became the largest industrial disaster in the country’s history. He was 26 years of age at the

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Maria Suleiman

Maria Suleiman’s son, Syed Munawwar (aka Honey) was killed on September 11, 2012 when the Ali Enterprises garment factory caught fire in what became the largest industrial disaster in the country’s history. He was 26 years of age at the

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Syed Munawwar aka ‘Honey’

Maria Suleiman holds a photo of her son Syed Munawwar aka Honey, who died in the Ali Enterprises factory fire that killed over 300 people on September 11, 2012. This is from a series of stories about the families of

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Syed Munawwar aka ‘Honey’

Maria Suleiman holds a photo of her son Syed Munawwar aka Honey, who died in the Ali Enterprises factory fire that killed over 300 people on September 11, 2012. This is from a series of stories about the families of

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Mohammed Kamran

Mohammed Kamran lost his father, Mohammed Sideeq (57), in the fire of 11 September 2012. Mohammed Sideeq had been employed at the factory for about 9 years, was was, at the time of his death, earning around Rs. 11,000 a

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Mohammed Kamran

Mohammed Kamran lost his father, Mohammed Sideeq (57), in the fire of 11 September 2012. Mohammed Sideeq had been employed at the factory for about 9 years, was was, at the time of his death, earning around Rs. 11,000 a

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Shehnaz Zaheer, Baldia Town, Karachi

It isn’t atonement he seeks. It is simply financial help for him and his family. It takes me some time to realize this. “Sometimes you speak to the media, and a generous soul can read about our plight.” He tells

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Shehnaz Zaheer, Baldia Town, Karachi

It isn’t atonement he seeks. It is simply financial help for him and his family. It takes me some time to realize this. “Sometimes you speak to the media, and a generous soul can read about our plight.” He tells

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Mohammed Zaheer, Baldia Town, Karachi

Farhan Zaheer began working at the garment factory at the age of eight. His father, Mohammad Zaheer, confesses this to me, his face torn by shame as his eyes suffer the sight of my shocked reaction. Farhan was paid Rs

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Mohammed Zaheer, Baldia Town, Karachi

Farhan Zaheer began working at the garment factory at the age of eight. His father, Mohammad Zaheer, confesses this to me, his face torn by shame as his eyes suffer the sight of my shocked reaction. Farhan was paid Rs

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An Incomplete Debate

There is something exciting, and something disappointing in the many discussions provoked by the recent factory fire that engulfed the Tazreen garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Today, for example, the New York Times invited a group of individuals involved with

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An Incomplete Debate

There is something exciting, and something disappointing in the many discussions provoked by the recent factory fire that engulfed the Tazreen garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Today, for example, the New York Times invited a group of individuals involved with

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Mrs. Islam & Waheed

Shamsul Islam lost his son, Shafiqul Islam (25), in the Ali Enterprises factory fire that killed over 300 people on September 11, 2012. Shafiqul Islam was the only member of the family bringing in a regular income. His body, a

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Mrs. Islam & Waheed

Shamsul Islam lost his son, Shafiqul Islam (25), in the Ali Enterprises factory fire that killed over 300 people on September 11, 2012. Shafiqul Islam was the only member of the family bringing in a regular income. His body, a

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Begum Islam

‘The DNA test we gave…’, he asks hesitating between words, ‘When do you think the results will come back?’ Shamsul Islam, poor day laborer living in the heart of the infamous Machar Colony – a squalid, makeshift slum on the

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Begum Islam

‘The DNA test we gave…’, he asks hesitating between words, ‘When do you think the results will come back?’ Shamsul Islam, poor day laborer living in the heart of the infamous Machar Colony – a squalid, makeshift slum on the

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Shamsul Islam

‘The DNA test we gave…’, he asks hesitating between words, ‘When do you think the results will come back?’ Shamsul Islam, is a day laborer living in the heart of the infamous Machar Colony – a squalid, makeshift slum on

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Shamsul Islam

‘The DNA test we gave…’, he asks hesitating between words, ‘When do you think the results will come back?’ Shamsul Islam, is a day laborer living in the heart of the infamous Machar Colony – a squalid, makeshift slum on

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Nasreen Imran, Baldia Town, Karachi

The moment the paternal grandmother refused to acknowledge or bless the grandchildren, Nasreen knew that the life she once knew, and the home she had once considered as her own, was no more. Standing in the foyer of her husband’s

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Nasreen Imran, Baldia Town, Karachi

The moment the paternal grandmother refused to acknowledge or bless the grandchildren, Nasreen knew that the life she once knew, and the home she had once considered as her own, was no more. Standing in the foyer of her husband’s

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Nasreen Khan, Baldia Town, Karachi

She sees him in her dreams. He is young, but older than the age at which he died. He comes towards her, and asks after her, inquiring about her health, about his sisters and whether they liked the clothes he

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Nasreen Khan, Baldia Town, Karachi

She sees him in her dreams. He is young, but older than the age at which he died. He comes towards her, and asks after her, inquiring about her health, about his sisters and whether they liked the clothes he

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Abdul Aziz Khan, Baldia Town, Karachi

Abdul Aziz Khan bequeathed poverty – and its daily rituals of survival, to his son Atta-Ullah Nabil. His dismissal from his job five years earlier because of his failing health, robbed Nabil of his childhood. Abdul Aziz Khan had succumbed

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Abdul Aziz Khan, Baldia Town, Karachi

Abdul Aziz Khan bequeathed poverty – and its daily rituals of survival, to his son Atta-Ullah Nabil. His dismissal from his job five years earlier because of his failing health, robbed Nabil of his childhood. Abdul Aziz Khan had succumbed

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The Peace That We Seek: Abdul Mateen

“It is difficult to explain, but you have to understand that all that we seek now is the peace that comes from seeing our child’s body and honouring him with a proper burial.” Abdul Mateen looks at his wife as

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The Peace That We Seek: Abdul Mateen

“It is difficult to explain, but you have to understand that all that we seek now is the peace that comes from seeing our child’s body and honouring him with a proper burial.” Abdul Mateen looks at his wife as

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The Peace That We Seek: Abida Mateen

“It is difficult to explain, but you have to understand that all that we seek now is the peace that comes from seeing our child’s body and honouring him with a proper burial.” Abdul Mateen looks at his wife as

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The Peace That We Seek: Abida Mateen

“It is difficult to explain, but you have to understand that all that we seek now is the peace that comes from seeing our child’s body and honouring him with a proper burial.” Abdul Mateen looks at his wife as

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A House Of Cards: Abdul Ghaffar Junaid

“We came with nothing.” He said in response to my question about why they had moved to Karachi. “There was no work, no way to make a living in Shahdadpur.” Each year thousands make a one-way journey from rural Sind

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A House Of Cards: Abdul Ghaffar Junaid

“We came with nothing.” He said in response to my question about why they had moved to Karachi. “There was no work, no way to make a living in Shahdadpur.” Each year thousands make a one-way journey from rural Sind

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A House Of Cards: Mobina Junaid

“We came with nothing.” He said in response to my question about why they had moved to Karachi. “There was no work, no way to make a living in Shahdadpur.” Each year thousands make a one-way journey from rural Sind

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A House Of Cards: Mobina Junaid

“We came with nothing.” He said in response to my question about why they had moved to Karachi. “There was no work, no way to make a living in Shahdadpur.” Each year thousands make a one-way journey from rural Sind

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Hussein Ahmed, Baldia Town, Karachi

He says very little. In contrast to the anger-tinged testimony of his wife when she spoke about their son Sirjeel’s death, and the incompetence of the rescue services that may have led to it, Hussein Ahmed neither revealed any emotions,

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Hussein Ahmed, Baldia Town, Karachi

He says very little. In contrast to the anger-tinged testimony of his wife when she spoke about their son Sirjeel’s death, and the incompetence of the rescue services that may have led to it, Hussein Ahmed neither revealed any emotions,

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Mohammed Siddeeq, Baldia Town, Karachi

There are the facts of the night that he died; the greedy flames, the chaotic crowds, the confused and haphazard rescue operation, the desperate attempt to break the walls of the factory, the pleas and screams of those trapped inside,

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Mohammed Siddeeq, Baldia Town, Karachi

There are the facts of the night that he died; the greedy flames, the chaotic crowds, the confused and haphazard rescue operation, the desperate attempt to break the walls of the factory, the pleas and screams of those trapped inside,

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Sharifa Siddeeq, Baldia Town, Karachi

“How did you find his body?” The question hangs in the air. Neither Mohammad Siddeeq or Sharifa answer but simply exchange glances. Outside, I hear the noise of the neighborhood: vegetable sellers, playing children, gossiping neighbors, passing trucks, bleating goats,

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Sharifa Siddeeq, Baldia Town, Karachi

“How did you find his body?” The question hangs in the air. Neither Mohammad Siddeeq or Sharifa answer but simply exchange glances. Outside, I hear the noise of the neighborhood: vegetable sellers, playing children, gossiping neighbors, passing trucks, bleating goats,

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Ghulam Nabi, Baldia Town, Karachi

What does it means to be a father – to be a caregiver, a worrier, a provider, a protector, a friend, and a sanctuary to a child? This was the question confronting Ghulam Nabi almost every day since the death

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Ghulam Nabi, Baldia Town, Karachi

What does it means to be a father – to be a caregiver, a worrier, a provider, a protector, a friend, and a sanctuary to a child? This was the question confronting Ghulam Nabi almost every day since the death

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Kanees Fatima, Baldia Town, Karachi

It was the promise of Rs. 6500 ($60), his monthly salary, that took him to the factory that day. It was the pride of the Rs. 500 ($5) raise that he had earned. It was the house bills, his sibling’s

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Kanees Fatima, Baldia Town, Karachi

It was the promise of Rs. 6500 ($60), his monthly salary, that took him to the factory that day. It was the pride of the Rs. 500 ($5) raise that he had earned. It was the house bills, his sibling’s

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Khurram Javed, Baldia Town, Karachi

Khurram had been busy since his brother’s death helping other families search for bodies, complete financial compensation paper work, deal with the police, the hospital and morgue formalities and prepare submissions for DNA testing to help identify bodies. Unlike his

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Khurram Javed, Baldia Town, Karachi

Khurram had been busy since his brother’s death helping other families search for bodies, complete financial compensation paper work, deal with the police, the hospital and morgue formalities and prepare submissions for DNA testing to help identify bodies. Unlike his

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Kausar Parveen Ahmed, Baldia Town, Karachi

People in the hundreds gathered outside the burning factory, all desperately trying to figure out how to save those trapped inside. Some are scuffling with the emergency services personnel, other with the police constabulary who are trying to gain control

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Kausar Parveen Ahmed, Baldia Town, Karachi

People in the hundreds gathered outside the burning factory, all desperately trying to figure out how to save those trapped inside. Some are scuffling with the emergency services personnel, other with the police constabulary who are trying to gain control

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Rosina Rehmat Ali, Baldia Town, Karachi

There is a sudden, unexpected turn in the conversation. I hear her voice quiver, and I see her entire body shake. Was it from fear, or from anger? During our conversation she had shown both; the fear that comes from

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Rosina Rehmat Ali, Baldia Town, Karachi

There is a sudden, unexpected turn in the conversation. I hear her voice quiver, and I see her entire body shake. Was it from fear, or from anger? During our conversation she had shown both; the fear that comes from

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