Fashion

The Eternal Embrace

Jeans

 

Year: 2013

Type: press photograph

Photographer: Taslima Akhter

Availability: reproduced and shared many times online.

Page reference: Scotford, N. (2013) The Eternal Embrace. followthethings.com (www.followthethings.com/eternalembrace.shtml last accessed <insert date here>)

Descriptions

Many powerful photographs have been made in the aftermath of the devastating collapse of a garment factory on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh. But one photo … has emerged as the most heart wrenching, capturing an entire country’s grief in a single image (Source: Anon in Anon & Akhter 2013, np link).

The most haunting image to emerge from the Bangladesh building collapse - two individuals sharing love’s last embrace (Source: Lemieux 2013, np link).

The picture speaks thousand words and is truly indescribable (Source: Hassan 2013, np link).

WARNING: THE … PHOTO MAY DISTURB SOME READERS (Source: Anon 2013a, np link).

Lego re-creation


The Eternal Embrace

Inspiration / Process / Technique / Methodology

This haunting photograph of victims embracing amid the rubble of a garment factory building collapse in Bangladesh was taken by Taslima Akhter, a Bangladeshi photographer and activist. She felt compelled to cover the garment factory collapse as she had been documenting the plight of garment workers (Source: Anon 2013a, np link).

A photo taken among the devastation of a collapsed Bangladesh garment factory has brought the deaths of at least 800 victims into sharp focus. The photo, which gained initial attention on reddit, a social news website, shows two deceased victims embracing inside the collapsed factory in Savar, Bangladesh (Source: Anon 2013a, np link).

Taslima Akhter, the Bangladeshi photographer that took the photo, told TIME that she spent the entire day of the collapse taking pictures, and that she felt like she knew the couple from the moment she found them amid the rubble. ‘I looked at who they were in their last moments as they stood together and tried to save each other — to save their beloved lives,’ Akhter told TIME. Akhter is no stranger to taking photos amid devastation. In November, when a Bangladesh factory fire killed more than 100 workers, Akhter was on the scene. ‘I took photos because they work dawn to dusk for very little money and their lives are considered to be so cheap, worth nothing,’ she told The New York Times last year (Source: Anon 2013a, np link).

[Akhter:] I have been asked many questions about the photograph of the couple embracing in the aftermath of the collapse. I have tried desperately, but have yet to find any clues about them. I don’t know who they are or what their relationship is with each other. I spent the entire day the building collapsed on the scene, watching as injured garment workers were being rescued from the rubble. I remember the frightened eyes of relatives - I was exhausted both mentally and physically. Around 2 a.m., I found a couple embracing each other in the rubble. The lower parts of their bodies were buried under the concrete. The blood from the eyes of the man ran like a tear. When I saw the couple, I couldn’t believe it. I felt like I knew them - they felt very close to me. I looked at who they were in their last moments as they stood together and tried to save each other - to save their beloved lives. Every time I look back to this photo, I feel uncomfortable - it haunts me. It’s as if they are saying to me, we are not a number - not only cheap labor and cheap lives. We are human beings like you. Our life is precious like yours, and our dreams are precious too. They are witnesses in this cruel history of workers being killed. The death toll is now more than 750. What a harsh situation we are in, where human beings are treated only as numbers. This photo is haunting me all the time. If the people responsible don’t receive the highest level of punishment, we will see this type of tragedy again. There will be no relief from these horrific feelings. I’ve felt a tremendous pressure and pain over the past two weeks surrounded by dead bodies. As a witness to this cruelty, I feel the urge to share this pain with everyone. That’s why I want this photo to be seen (Source: in Anon & Akhter 2013, np link).

[Akhter:] As I have been surrounded by dead bodies, over the past few weeks, I have felt a tremendous pressure and pain. As a witness to this cruelty, I feel a strong urge to share this pain with everyone. That is why I want this photo to be seen over and over again (Source: in Roy 2013, np link).

Discussion / Responses

Heart Crushing (Source: JClanton 2013, np link).

back breaking (Source: PepeLaRue 2013, np link).

Spine breaking (Source: Nagus_Maximus420 2013, np link).

Blood Tears (Source: Grumblor 2013, np link).

This picture overwhelms me! (Source: LyBraive 2013, np link).

RIP (Source: graycam 2013, np link).

I don't know which is worse, the (bloody?) tear streaking down the chaps face, or the awkward, unnatural way the lady is slumped back, removing the possible illusion of life still remaining. Sad, and a little chilling (Source: Siriku 2013, np link).

This is amazingly powerful! My heart hurts and yet it celebrates. Even until the end they are embracing each other. Such compassion! Wow (Source: Riker 2013, np link).

Wow. Simply wow. My heart was pulled in sooo many ways (Source: Edward 2013, np link).

Thank you … for sharing such an amazing photo. Its beautiful!!! emotionally filled photo, I cried reflecting on a mans love (Source: Brooke 2013, np link).

you can't weep at the sight of this picture, and then NOT try to understand its causes (Source: Beatriz09 2013, np link).

Heartbreaking. Utterly heartbreaking. Made me instantly think of the victims of Mt. Vesuviusc - frozen in time under the ashfall (Source: MadMaddie 2013, np link).

that's actually really sweet. to see the building collapsing around you but closing your eyes and holding on tight as you leave the world together (Source: shellsandbelles 2013, np link).

It's equally sad and beautiful (Source: Kellygrl6441 2013, np link).

Is it horrible to say that I find this beautiful? (Source: Adamforlove 2013, np link).

There is something about this image - it captures me, and draws me nearer. I feel connected to these two friends - I feel as if I know the emotions of their final moments together. I see the blood dripping from this young man’s eye, the final tear in love’s last embrace. And though, to some this image may represent horrific tragedy, to me, it also represents the divine power of love. That even in the face of adversity and death, our human instinct is to nurture our fellow human spirits (Source: Lemieux 2013, np Link).

Perhaps they were close to each other in life. Perhaps they only had a nodding acquaintance. Perhaps they were a couple charmed by the many shades of beauty life had on offer. And, again, perhaps they were colleagues struggling to make a living through tortuous labour in the factory that crashed on them on Wednesday. On the night between 24-25 April, it was their improbable companionship that came alive in the gathering shadow of tragedy. Life might have been too constricting to allow them the freedom to indulge in dreams. We will never know. But through this image … death in all its lugubrious intensity brings this man and this woman into eternal union. His arms around her speak of a poignant story of chivalry, for he tried to keep the life going in her even as he prepared for death. In his desperate protective embrace, she must have felt reassured about a renewal of life beyond the falling concrete. In the end, all was silence. Life went to pieces. Death became a metaphor for what could have been (Source: Anon 2013b, np link).

This is so very, very sad and it definitely makes the horror, of what happened, hit home more intensely.  These were people who had lives ... who were loved and who loved. These were brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers, husbands and wives who tried to make a living.  These are the victims of greed and a lackadaisical world which treats these kind of workers as less than human and allows them to work in sub-standard buildings.  My deepest condolences to all their loved ones (Source: bev_mcmullan 2013, np link).

Totally bummed me out (Source: MonkeyDLufy 2013, np link).

I didn't look. I don't need to see it (Source: ccmikey 2013, np link).

Attention Walmart shoppers. Nothing to see here.... special sales on aisle 7 (Source: Omentum 2013, np link).

Walmart ought to place pictures like this atop the racks of their cheap clothes, so people know who's paying for their cheap clothes (Source: chadcoop60 2013, np link).

I wonder if Wal-Mart will have this [photo] printed on a tee shirt for sale in it's US stores in time for Valentine's Day, 2014? (Source: Kansas Moondog 2013, np link).

Well.. they can rest in peace now knowing their image is being used to sell ads and make money for some website (Source: crezyoz 2013, np link).

A good way to die. Sucks, but it could be worse (Source: CndConnection 2013, np link).

I'm starting to imagine possible sad backstories to this image. what if he secretly loved her and only got to hug her in the end? (Source: nikeryen 2013, np link).

Or what if they were two strangers who had never met and were on different levels of the building, and their embrace was accidental due to the way the building collapsed? (Source: seabass86 2013, np link).

Wouldn't that make him a creep for the last second of his life? (Source: whileyouwereliving 2013 , np link).

… though morbid, it's a beautiful picture. Whether they're a couple or not is debatable but the image shows death in a more real, yet romantic way. No one wants to die alone. Escaping life in the arms of a loved one is ideal (Source: qwertberty 2013, np link).

This is truly beautiful on so many levels and yet it is morbid, but think about what these photo even means. This was the last moment of whatever amount of time they spent together in their journey through life, they were in each others arms until the very last second of life left in their bodies (Source: TheForbiddenFool 2013, np link).

I am imagining that he was trying to shield her with his body. I come from a long line of American factory workers, and this tragedy saddens me deeply (Source: psprd 2013, np link).

I think this photo, if it wasn't staged a bit, was just an accident. These bodies happened to fall together (Source: Jumbybird 2013, np link).

[This] /r/MorbidReality [subreddit] is a risky click, but by no means a bad one. We live in a sterile culture in a lot of ways, many of us only see mimicry of death and passing on TV and Movies. Sometimes we owe ourselves to remember our mortality, which only makes life more spectacular (Source: Stalkholm 2013, np link).

This is one of my favorite subreddits actually. Everyone is very mature about the content and it really is sobering (Source: Watch_Your_Grammar 2013, np link).

The loss of life is tragic, but I can’t think of a way I’d rather exit this life than holding onto and trying, with my last breaths, to protect or be with someone I cared about. They died, but not alone. Sad yet very beautiful (Source: Andersaur 2013, np link).

Boy that's sad. Could imagine me and my wife in a similar situation. :-( (Source: MountainPercussion 2013, np link).

‘Today was the day,’ jack said. Today was the day I finally tell her how I feel about her. It has been 5 months now and jack is finally ready. Finally ready to tell Alice how he feels about her. He has been nervous all day, but today he is finally going to tell her how he feels. He figured he would wait until their lunch break and ask her when she is alone. Time passed slowly that day, it was one of the longest days that jack has ever had, but it was almost time, in 30 minutes he would tell her how he feels about her say those simple 3 words, ‘I love you.’ After what seemed like the longest 30 minutes of his life, it was finally their lunch break. Jack nervously came up to Alice and asked if she would have lunch with him today. She makes a gentle smile and says she would love to. Jack starts to make small talk with Alice while also commenting how pretty she is. He even talks about a funny story he had with his best friend last week. Finally he decided that now was the time. He started to feel his legs shake. He calmed himself down then proceeded to say the three words he practiced all day. ‘I love you,’ he said to himself repeatedly. Just say it and then it'll all be over. Finally he opens his mouth and says ‘I’ then stops. He feels shaking again, but this time, it's not from his legs, it's from the ground. Alice feels it too and looks around. Then it happened. The walls started to shake and the parts of the ceiling was starting to fall. They both realized what was happening and started to head for the door, but before they could reach the door, the ceiling fell in front of the door, their only way out. Panicking they try to push the part of the ceiling. No good. They are really worried now, as more and more of the building is collapsing. Jack realizes what is going to happen, and before it does he realizes that there is one thing he has to do before he dies. He turns to Alice and says ‘I love you’ and embraces her. Alice is at first shocked with this confession, but says back to Jack, ‘I love you too, ‘and she returns his embrace. They hold each other as the ceiling collapses and kills them both as they hold the one they love in each others arms (Source: daking549 2013, np link).

Where was relationship implied? I see a couple, embracing each other, dead (Source [deleted] 2013, np link).

… it could be his sister or something. Who knows (Source: FSUnole92 2013, np link).

That totally makes it less moving (Source: whileyouwereliving 2013, np link).

Actually, no one knows their relationship to one another (Source: originalucifer 2013, np link).

Really does it matter? They didn’t die alone. If I was going down, I’d like to have that last moment not be alone. RIP (Source: velvethammer44 2013, np link).

Are you kidding? That makes it even more so! The fact that they might not be lovers, but siblings, or even strangers … but faced with death it doesn’t matter who they are; they are two human beings, finding solace in each other’s embrace in their final moments (Source: I did not enjoy that 2013, np link).

I think that knowing they were not in a relationship makes it a bit more heart warming. Two strangers were both scared and did not know what to do, except hug each other (Source: spongebrot 2013, np link).

Death is tragic and commonplace. 300 people dying is a drop in the bucket compared to daily death rates (Source: Dumbficate 2013, np link).

300 people dying in the same event is not that common (Source: batmansavestheday 2013, np link).

Someone needs to put a ‘Walmart: Save money. Live better.’ logo on this. edit For those who do not know, the factory that collapsed mostly made clothes for Walmart who could give two sh*ts about the factory conditions just so long as they are cheap suppliers (Source: yebhx 2013, np link).

This is the price of unscrupulous outsourcing. Good job Weston Family and your Joe Fresh stores! Way to go (Source: pencil_head 2013, np link).

this is what pi**es me off - if these were an American couple, we'd all see it on every news story (Source: queenelizabeththe2nd 2013, np link).

If they were Americans they wouldn't be seen any where. Has anyone seen the bodies of the fire fighters who were killed in the Texas explosion, or the 12 who died in the BP oil platform explosion fire, how about the kids and teachers in the Newtown shooting? Americans needs a dose of reality to wake this country up (Source: BPCentrisAmerican 2013, np link).

out of respect for the deceased and their family, was showing that pic really necessary? (Source: carnival of sins 2013, np link).

Yes, it is. You can't sanitize a tragedy and then wonder that nothing is done to prevent similar tragedies in the future. Besides, considering how many commenters seem to believe that a Bangladeshi life is worth less than an American life, it also helps humanizing people who have not been treated as humans during their life (Source: twindy 2013, np link).

… it has been on almost ALL news sites everywhere in the world by now.  And the reason why people SHOULD see it is because these victims of human greed DESERVE to be honored by a timeless picture that will make their names known all over the world. At the same time, you can only hope that seeing CONCRETELY what forcing people to work for ridiculously low wages and in extremely dangerous circumstances means, makes people think twice (Source: Beatriz09 2013, np link).

Taslima's passionate appeal makes me wonder if such an exploitation would have been allowed in the developed world - say, the European Union, where human rights issues are gloriously championed, but which does not shy from exploiting the people and resources of the under-developed world. In Pink Floyd parlance, they become comfortably numb. It is then left up to photojournalists and activists such as Taslima to run through the rubbles, document the lives of the underprivileged, listen to their tales, face the business mafia and yet wave the banner of awareness tirelessly … It is not just Taslima's pain that reflects in the most melancholic manner through this picture; the image is also an appeal from a poor, developing nation that wants to tread the path of economic success but by not being made a victim of its own circumstances and poverty (Source: Roy 2013, np link).  

The only thing they had were their spirits. And their spirits were snuffed. For profits; not just a fair and reasonable profit, but an obscene and gross amount of profit. Their 30 cents of labor per hour produced hundreds of dollars for everyone else in the system. The owner of the factory, the wholesaler, the designer, the fabric manufacturer, the retailer, the investors and of course the real profiteer … The CEO of Beneton. Sleep in peace. Their eternity will be bliss while those responsible will burn in horror (Source: Scurvydog74 link).

…we are all responsible for this tragedy. Punishing an idiotic middle-man will not mean that this type of tragedy will stop happening in the grand scheme of things. Who really believed that? We all accept the premise that owners of these companies deserve the profits they accrue. That we need such cheap, disposable clothes. We knowingly buy goods that were produced in sweatshops as unsafe as this one, to replace last year’s wardrobe (goods we don’t need, that will not end up making anyone feel better, happier, more fulfilled). If each one of us was made to see, truly see how it is that these products came to life, I think we’d all have a hard time desiring so much crap. WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS. (I am responsible for this) (Source: ReginaFosca 2013, np link).

Rubbish.  The people who allow such lax building codes are responsible.  You couldn't have such a building in the states because we wouldn't allow it.  ‘WE’ are not responsible.  ‘THEY’ are (Source: Shelton 2013, np link).

Pure denial.  We buy the inexpensive clothes made in these sweatshops.  If we didn't, cheap buildings for a cheap labor force like this would never exist.  Quit blaming others and accept some personal responsibility (Source: JohnWood 2013, np link).

The vast majority of the cheap garment industry manages to make cheap clothes without killing hundreds of people. Tragedies like this, while deeply troubling, represent a tiny fraction of a percentage of the clothing industry. It was the fault of one, or a handful, of incompetent and irresponsible individuals. The same kind of idiots exist in all walks of life, including all forms of government. I know that proclaiming ‘WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE’ probably makes you feel as if you're on a higher plane of morality than everyone else, but just stop it (Source: jtpinnyc 2013, np link).

Some more food for thought ... they were forced to go back to their slavery (jobs for <$0.25 per hour 7 days a week 16 hours per day) to make us sh*tty clothes ... apparently for ‘Joe Fresh’ clothing this time.  The police told the building owner to evacuate the building the day before due to cracks ... the owner told these people to get their asses back in the building and get to work. They work from sunrise to sunset in conditions that amount to slavery, with hired thugs to beat them if they try to unionize to demand safety rights. 4 million people in Bangladesh are our slaves ... so we can buy sh*tty quality clothing from Walmart (last month their factory burned down with 112 dead because the doors were chained shut to keep the workers in), and now ‘Joe Fresh’ clothing, 300+ people killed because the owner forced them back into an unsafe building.  They estimate that the number of enslaved people will be up to 10 million in the next few years as textile jobs are migrated from China to India. Unimaginably they can pay people less and treat them worse in India than they can in China. We need to make better conscious decisions about what we are spending our money on ... all this blood is on our hands, don't kid yourself we are as close to the problem as we can be and we are the only ones who can demand better treatment of the workers (Source: Jeff_R 2013, np link).

I would prefer my clothing to be a little more expensive if I know this is because we will have a more fair trade. The stockholders of our countries should also push for their Companys  to act within reasonable ethics! I do not say that everybody should turn filthy Rich, but I do say that the majors amongst us should see a responsibility in order to pay People enough so they could live of their salary, and above all. that they are safe where they are. When we hear storys of workers killing themself in despair around the underdeveloped markeds. Well, then we actually do have a responsibility (Source: RuneBjelland 2013, np link).

We don't actually give a f*ck. A sad image is no match for a cheap pair of jeans. 100% of us viewing this image are guilty of supporting a system that allowed them to die. If you can live with that, carry on. If not, actually do something about it (Source: facstdontbotherme 2013, np link).

The disaster emerged as just another grim reminder of the 'haves' of the world bleeding the 'have-nots' to death, perhaps in the most brutal and barbaric manner. All for the sake of profitability, greed, and consumerism. As I read and heard the tales of sufferings, I took a quick look at my dark brown skin and recalled the countless episodes of abuse I had either witnessed or heard from poor Asian laborers: Bangladeshis, Indians, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis and Nepalese. Some beyond imagination and many commonly practiced, yet blindly tolerated. No matter where on earth it occurred - the Middle East, Europe or Southeast Asia - the location did not change anything at all. The bigotry was constant and ubiquitous (Source: Ram 2013, np link).

the irony is ... brown blood stays brown .. and white blood white .... this is slavery modern guise (Source: Govila 2013, np link).

The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalized the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production. Karl Marx, Economic Writings. And now free market has come to Bangladesh (Source: DarrellTurner 2013, np link).

Yeah like catastrophic disasters have never happened in socialist / communist countries. Chernobyl anyone? The way in which demented left wing morons use cases of human tragedy like this in order to promote their political agenda is beyond sickening. You should be ashamed of yourself (Source: jtpinnyc 2013, np link).

Sure they're dead but at least they didnt have to go on living in a world full of socialist things like building codes and safety regulations (Source: [deleted] 2013, np link).

I think Republicans would refer to that picture as the ‘Bottom Line’ - They want to do away with minimum wage laws so we can compete with places like Bangladesh. How can anyone in their ‘right’ mind want American Workers to compete with that? (Source: LeanLeftAmerica 2013, np link).

I would be far happier buying clothing made in the USA, but there just aren’t any. The price of clothing is not set by American consumers. The prices are set by the corporations that buy and sell within the garment industry. Thinking the average American has control over the garment industry is like thinking the American public has control over the medical industrial complex, pharmaceuticals, chemicals in food, agriculture, or politics. Anyone who thinks differently is insane or a liberal (Source: Holiday Run 2013, np link).

[Change] has to start with the buyer. Brands, while not without fault by any means, are also responding to demand like any other business. While people look for cheap clothing over quality, prioritize fast fashion over trendsetting designers, and consume clothing in startling amounts, those brands can't realistically be expected to change (even if they should). At a policy level, both lax regulations in countries with large manufacturing industries as well as anti-trust laws are part of the reason brands can often brush these tragedies off their shoulders and side-step any real responsibility (Source: Nisita 2013, np link).  

This image, while deeply disturbing, is also hauntingly beautiful. An embrace in death, its tenderness rises above the rubble to touch us where we are most vulnerable. By making it personal, it refuses to let go. This is a photograph that will torment us in our dreams. Quietly it tells us. Never again (Source: Alam in Akhter 2013, np link)

I know what Alam is trying to say by calling the photo ‘hauntingly beautiful’, but are we really supposed to take the aesthetics of it into account? To me, no. The photo merely documents globalised imperialism and unchecked neo-liberalism. It’s repulsive and there is no beauty in it (Source: newsfliporg 2013, np link).

While I agree the picture is not ‘hauntingly beautiful’ you reasons are absurd, ‘neo-liberalism’, give me a break? I hope you don't hold any position of responsibility. This is simply a case of history repeating itself, of us not learning from the past. Have you ever heard of the New York 'Triangle Shirt Factory Fire'?: http://www.osha.gov/oas/trianglefactoryfire.html Did neo-liberalism cause this fire in 1911, I didn't realize it was a problem that went so far back? We went through the same sort of disastors and we learned and instituted a building and workplace codes. I blame the Bangladeshi government, and the companies selling products from places like this, but mostly the Bangladeshi governement, they could have prevented this with a proper building code that you can copy from some other country (Source: mrpaulgs 2013, np link).

Rather than neo-liberalism, I would use the world Capitalism. Inside this system, neo-liberalism simply makes it bigger and faster (Source: JazzyJeb 2013, np link).

‘Neoliberalism is a political philosophy whose advocates support economic liberalization, free trade and open markets, privatization,  deregulation, and decreasing the size of the public sector while increasing the role of the private sector in modern society.’  What is wrong with free-trade, open markets, privatization and decreasing the size of the government bloat while helping the private sector to grow? As long as there is competent government oversight on building codes, employee abuse and the other causes of this very human tragedy, then it would not have happened. But corruption abounds and the rule of law is broken. Neoliberalism - nonsense! (Source: timeraf 2013, np link).

Neo liberalism?  What kind of delusion are you living?  This is about saving the almighty dollar which, of course, is the benchmark for today's conservative movement (No Regulations!).  And if you buy clothing anywhere in the US, if it's not Made in the USA, then you are every much as guilty as anyone else for this tragedy (Source: JohnWood 2013, np link).

Profits, the almighty profit. When is enough, enough, for the profit takers? They caused this disaster and so many others. The picture is that of humanity. They were real people now frozen in reality. The profit takers on all levels have to be held responsible for what their greed causes (Source: marglr 2013, np link).

Post this picture all over ‘wall street’ and everywhere they go. Post it everywhere until they can look nowhere without seeing it in their sleep (Source: sundaize 2013, np link).

We shoppers here in the U.S. prefer to lie to ourselves about the working conditions in factories in emerging economies. It's much more comforting to believe that your 'Made in Sri Lanka' clothing was lovingly sewn by middle-class garment workers union members in an air conditioned room somewhere, and that their salaries have allowed them to pay the rent, put their kids through school, and take a vacation. Over the decades we've made sure that these items will never be made here again unless we allow companies to mimic the conditions under which they employ foreign workers. We've demonized unions, limited our corporate horizons to the next quarter only, worship profits no matter what the human cost, and have widened the chasm betweeen workers and owners until we now believe that there is no relationship between worker productivity and worker reward. Even the worst, failed CEO gets handsomly rewarded, while the employees get kicked in the face. So don't look at the picture, go buy your clothing at Wally World, and tsk-tsk from afar. Abiding by safety regulations costs money, and that would eat into profits. Mongo say regulations BAD, unfettered capitalism GOOD. So what if the death toll rises? It's just collateral damage (Source: gingersaff 2013, np link).

this is not a natural accident. we (humans) did this (Source: ReginaFosca 2013, np link).

Following the tragic events in a textile factory in the capital of Bangladesh, which cost the lives of at least 700 underpaid textile workers, photographer Taslima Akhter,  found these two unidentified workers in the rubble,  in an eternal final embrace. Who were they?  Fellow workers? Husband and wife? Lovers? Or just two of the 3,000 underpaid textile workers, working up to 18 hours per day, in a dangerous nine storey building without any decent working conditions. In their last moments of horror and panic, complete unselfish compassion and basic human love,  overcame everything else, even in their tragic death. Their ultimate painful sacrifice… for which they paid with their lives, enables vain, affluent western women, men and children, to enjoy their shopping trips to international success outlets of Mango and Primark, in huge air conditioned modern shopping centres of big European or American cities. Impossible to contemplate or ignore this tragic image, Without demanding better working conditions for factory workers of international brands, operating in Bangladesh and India, in horrid labour conditions (Source: Tisha 2013, np link).

This really is a memorable photograph ... I hope that if they are on the other side of the ‘Veil’ that they are pleased that this image was preserved - and so moving to so many. Let us carry the feelings evoked when viewing this image of this couple, these precious human beings, as we strive to improve conditions for workers throughout the world ... Perhaps this is something for the U.N. to follow-up with - a la blood diamonds - greater and far more effective oversight with no advance warnings on inspections, persistent and effective follow-up inspections to counter the astonishing levles of greed and complete disregard for the safety of fellow human beings (Source: SusanSan 2013, np link).

The 1 million or so garment workers who have protested in Bangladesh and shut this industry down for days are an inspiration. Despite their sadness at the death toll, they have ACTED; they reaffirm for all of us what the photographer herself explains: 'We are not a number - not only cheap labor and cheap lives. We are human beings like you. Our life is precious like yours, and our dreams are precious too’ (Source: Cooper 2013, np link).

This will inspire a film like titanic. F*CKING GREAT (Source: Smashy76 2013, np link).

Impact / Outcomes

I can barely look at the clothing I’ve bought now and not see at what cost they are actually worth and not be ashamed (Source: Sajwert 2013, np link). 

Exactly why I refuse to shop at Walmart (Source: Barnes 2013, np link).

It's important to keep in mind that some people cannot make that choice, it is a privilege of people with disposable income. Sometimes you need to buy the cheapest clothing you can do you can spend the money on food. That doesn't justify this treatment whatsoever, but I would hesitate to blame the consumer for it (Source: Hurlburt 2013, np link).

I disagree. I live off unemployment money. And I don't shop. It is indeed very difficult. But I try to only buy new stuff from firms I know made their stuff fair trade. So I safe for a coat, several months, so what? I honestly only go into such shops when I really really need something which is perhaps 2, 3 times a year, and I am being honest. What's wrong is our society and our lack of understanding that we live in wealth. The old story of media creating want and make us think it is need so we forget to be content…I do not wish to point any finger, I simply encourage us to change our mindsets. Every change starts with an idea, and where do ideas come from… not from surrendering under current circumstances and feelings of helplessness :) (Source: Ju 2013, np link).

Boycotting will achieve nothing but put the livelihood of 30+ million textile workers in Bangladesh at risk. Also lets not blame the western retailers. , guys. It is simple economics and the underlying principle is the supply and demand. This was a terrible accident, no doubt. But if people start boycotting then we will be risking millions more casualties! (Source: HabuLama 2013, np link).

actually, boycotts, strikes and action is what changed the garment industry in North America at the turn of the century. The same types of action ended slavery, which was also based on simple economics. … Car accidents happen, but we have seatbelts and airbags to reduce their impacts. Boycotting is a very effective way of telling companies that people are more important than profits (Source: SaffronRain 2013, np link).

This morning I signed this petition regarding the protection of foreign-factory garment workers. I must confess it was rather disheartening – embarrassing! – to observe so many ‘other countries’ being posted to the real-time sig-calculator, realizing that nearly all of the clothing sold in ‘our country’ has been, either, made-in or assembled-in many foreign lands!! (Source: WritingDetail 2013

It has been weeks since the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed in Sarvar, Bangladesh, killing almost 1,100 garment workers who were making cut-piece clothes for Western brands. The disaster emerged as just another grim reminder of the ‘haves’ of the world bleeding the ‘have-nots’ to death, perhaps in the most brutal and barbaric manner. All for the sake of profitability, greed, and consumerism … The Rana Plaza disaster would have also been easily wiped out of everyone's memories, with that dismissive feel of ‘oh, one of those Asian disasters, they just keep happening,’ but for one immensely powerful photograph shot by a young Taslima Akhter, a Bangladeshi photographer who paused the frames of time. The iconic image of a man and a woman embracing each other in their final moments of death, buried under the rubble of the collapsed building, saw hundreds of thousands of people sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr and LinkedIn. … The image had gone viral and suddenly everybody knew about Rana Plaza and the plight of the poor workers who died working in those garment factories. It also emerged as the pin-up poster of abused factory workers in Bangladesh and the failure of the state to safeguard them. The ‘embrace of eternal love,’ as the media described the picture, started a global debate. Analysts on television and discussion forums got busy pointing fingers at the turpitude and complicity of clothing giants such as Sweden's H&M, American retailer GAP, UK's Primark and Tesco and Netherland's C&A, all of whom sourced many of their materials from the ill-fated garment factories of Rana Plaza. Online campaigns shot through cyberspace, appealing to global consumers to pressurize these clothing brands to pledge for minimum wages and boost safety procedures in Bangladesh's garment factories. Pressure group Avaaz's online campaign, ‘crushed to make our clothes,’ had more than a million people signing up, eventually forcing H&M to rethink its sourcing procedures and policies (Source: Roy 2013, np link).

Literally saddest thing I've seen in quite some time. I need to hug my girlfriend more, much much more (Source: panicbot9000 2013, np link).

Yea this got me right in the feels. I'm going to go embrace my wife now (Source: mcbredditor 2013, np link).

Sources / Further Reading

[deleted] (2013) Comment on iceeee (2013) Bangladeshi couple dies embracing each other as the building collapsed around them. reddit.com (http://www.reddit.com/r/WTF/comments/1d5ipe/bangladeshi_couple_dies_embracing_each_other_as/ last accessed 24 June 2013)

Adamforlove (2013) Comment on iceeee (2013) Bangladeshi couple dies embracing each other as the building collapsed around them. reddit.com (http://www.reddit.com/r/WTF/comments/1d5ipe/bangladeshi_couple_dies_embracing_each_other_as/ last accessed 24 June 2013)

Alam (2013) Comment on Lemieux, T. (2013) Love’s Final Embrace. elephantjournal.com 9 May (http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/05/loves-final-embrace-heartbreaking-photo/ last accessed 20 June 2013)

Andersaur (2013) Comment on iceeee (2013) Bangladeshi couple dies embracing each other as the building collapsed around them. reddit.com (http://www.reddit.com/r/WTF/comments/1d5ipe/bangladeshi_couple_dies_embracing_each_other_as/ last accessed 24 June 2013)

Anon (2013a) Heartbreaking Bangladesh Factory Photo Shows Couple In Final Embrace (PHOTO). Huffington Post 8 May (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/08/bangladesh-final-embrace_n_3238492.html last accessed 20 June 2013)

Anon (2013b) In the end: silence. The Daily Star 1 May (http://www.thedailystar.net/beta2/news/in-the-endsilence/  last accessed 20 June 2013)

Anon & Akhter, T. (2013) A final embrace: The most haunting photograph from Bangladesh. lightbox.time.com 8 May (http://lightbox.time.com/2013/05/08/a-final-embrace-the-most-haunting-photograph-from-bangladesh/#1 last accessed 20 June 2013)

Barnes, C. (2013) Comment on Anon & Akhter, T. (2013) A final embrace: The most haunting photograph from Bangladesh. lightbox.time.com 8 May (http://lightbox.time.com/2013/05/08/a-final-embrace-the-most-haunting-photograph-from-bangladesh/#1 last accessed 20 June 2013)

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whileyouwereliving (2013) Comment on iceeee (2013) Bangladeshi couple dies embracing each other as the building collapsed around them. reddit.com (http://www.reddit.com/r/WTF/comments/1d5ipe/bangladeshi_couple_dies_embracing_each_other_as/ last accessed 24 June 2013)

WritingDetail (2013) Comment on Anon (2013a) Heartbreaking Bangladesh Factory Photo Shows Couple In Final Embrace (PHOTO). Huffington Post 8 May (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/08/bangladesh-final-embrace_n_3238492.html last accessed 20 June 2013)

yebhx (2013) Comment on iceeee (2013) Bangladeshi couple dies embracing each other as the building collapsed around them. reddit.com (http://www.reddit.com/r/WTF/comments/1d5ipe/bangladeshi_couple_dies_embracing_each_other_as/ last accessed 24 June 2013)

Product photo credit

Camisetas (2009) File:Blue Tshirt.jpg. commons.wikimedia.org 8 October (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blue_Tshirt.jpg last accessed 20 June 2013)

Page compiled by Nancy Scotford, as part of a followthethings.com internship, edited by Ian Cook (last updated June 2013). Legoing by Nancy Scotford.