When a young woman was found alive after 17 days in the collapsed building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, last week there were shouts of “Allahu’akhbar” (God is great). But, over 1,000 people were killed in this collapse. If God was responsible for the saving of one individual life, then of course God must also be responsible for those deaths as well. I didn’t hear shouts of God is great when the building collapsed and people were killed. Only the positive outcome is attributed to God. Actually it was chance, luck, the roll of the dice, that happened to save one life out of 1,000.
After the collapse it transpired that the day before large cracks had appeared in the building that housed several factories employing ca. 3,000 workers. But, the employers and the building owner told the workers to go back to work. As a result these people are now under arrest for negligence and manslaughter. They are held responsible for their actions, it was their actions that caused the deaths. But, even before that, the shoddy building and irresponsible inspections were what were responsible for the collapse. It was no act of God but an act of man, or rather a lack of action of man.
When the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire occurred in New York City in 1911 and hundreds of girls were killed or jumped to their deaths, the tragedy was enough to cause the New York and US Governments to change the laws to ensure save working practices. Maybe the tragedy in Bangladesh will result in serious changes to the building codes there too. It is 100 years between these events, perhaps that is a measure of how far behind the third world is in relation to workers’s safety.