A Reality Show Created What the Complain Misses

  • A Norwegian Reality did the Parliament to discuss about the conditions of garment factory workers in Cambodia.
  • Two of the protagonists ended to be fashion buyers to become activists in their country after their participation in the show that was about living with Cambodian garment factory workers. The protagonists were shocked of what they experienced. 
  • The topic is not new on discussion, but it shows that our Western societies are too busy watching Reality Shows rather than social reality. 

It is how we are now: A Reality Show has been the most effective way to call on a situation denounced before for a long time by NGOs, human rights observers, unionists and many individuals: the condition of the developing countries’ garment factory workers is a shame for the industrialized world. A Norway Reality Show filmed in a Cambodian garment factory is going around the world showing the real conditions of the workers, especially young women. But the most important point is that the three protagonists, two women and a man, were lovers of expensive fashion getting monthly clothing up to 600 Euros, without aware that many things they used to buy have been made in countries like Cambodia where a worker earns 120 US dollars per month – following the last January 2015 official minimum wage update.

Moda barata de la muerte

The Reality puts three young Norwegians, Anniken, Frida and Ludwig, in a place that produces the clothing they used to buy in their own country. They have to live with the garment factory workers in the same living conditions, with the same salary, housing and transport for a month. The program is broadcast by the Norway channel Aftenposten and its impact has also created a hot discussion at the Norwegian Parliament on the role of the national firm H&M and why it does nothing to improve the living conditions of the Cambodian garment workers.

It is possible to follow the different chapters of the Reality Show in this link.

But it is not a new discussion. You can see older productions such as the one of Journeyman.tv showing the situation of workers in Bangladesh. Several NGOs in Cambodia, unionists and individuals speak out of the situation of the workers without real meaningful improvements. Instead, the garment associations press the Cambodian government to keep it like that threatening to leave the country if, for example, a higher salary is approved.

But what is clear is that people in industrialized countries are too busy watching Reality Shows instead seeing reality. Thus it seems that it is the way to show the thriving lives of the poor in countries like Cambodia, so people over there can do something. Let us make more Realities then: one for human trafficking, one for HIV victims, one for evicted farmers and ethnic minorities, one for global warming… maybe like this the international community should realize that they should do something more than assuring their own comfort on weekends to watch the new chapter of a vain Reality Show.


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About Albeiro Rodas

Albeiro Rodas (in Cambodia Sky Ly Samnang), is a MA in Digital Communication, independent journalist and a Salesian of Don Bosco from Amalfi, Colombia, based in Cambodia since 1999. He is the creator of the Don Bosco schools of journalism in Sihanoukville and Kep with young people from poor communities and the founder of the Don Bosco Kep Children Fund. Medal for Social Commitment UPB (2010); among the 100 more upstanding Colombians abroad (Marca Colombia, 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X39xwdGtVXI) and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (http://www.colombia.co/en/culture/colombians-that-are-making-this-a-better-world.html).

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