Fashion Bloggers Chat With A Pregnant Textile Worker, Reveal The Harsh Realities In The Industry

"Why didn't I know before I sat with them?"

Sweatshop is an award-winning Norwegian documentary-style TV Show that follows four Scandinavian fashion bloggers around Phnom Penh — the capital of Cambodia — as they expose the far from glamorous backstage of fast-fashion and seek for change in the industry. Each week A Plus features a new episode of the show's latest season.

In the second episode, the fashion bloggers are still having trouble getting into any of Cambodian sweatshops, so they talk to textile workers, activists and union leaders outside the walls of garment factories.  They pay a visit to Nimol, a garment worker, bloggers Anniken Jørgensen and Frida Ottesen met two years ago, who's now expecting a child.

While expecting a baby is a beautiful time, it also poses a lot of challenges to female textile workers. According to Human Rights Watch, pregnant workers in Cambodia are more likely to experience discrimination. This includes incidents like factory management refusing to hire or renew a short-term contract, or even demoting and cutting their pay.

"I'm so happy for you and your child. But at the same time, I'm scared." Jørgensen tells Nimol.

"It is tough, but I have no choice," Nimol replies. "If I need to go to the doctor and check the baby's health, they won't let me. If I take time off I will not have enough money to pay for the birth costs."

"That makes me sad. If you were me you would feel the same," she adds.

As the episode explains, the majority of textile workers in Cambodia earn the minimum salary of $128 a month, while the living wage is roughly 30 percent more — about $177. 

"[Textile worker's] wages have gone up [in the recent years,] but so have prices," Jørgensen points out. "It means that they still can't live a normal life."

Later in the episode, Cambodian textile workers and activists discuss which brands they work for and what they are instructed to say when brands come to factories for inspections. While this proves to be a pretty eye-opening experience for the bloggers, it also represents how ignorant we often are as consumers. Do you know who made your clothes, and under what conditions?

You can watch the entire episode with English subtitles below.

Make sure to check out A Plus next week for the third episode or watch the first one if you haven't yet.