Atlantic Cities – Sarah Goodman

The Plight of Cambodia’s Garment Workers, On Display on a Manhattan Sidewalk

The Atlantic Cities
By Sarah Goodman

Last week, on a busy sidewalk in Times Square, a hunched figure in a surgical mask labored at a hand-operated sewing machine. This anonymous worker was Khmer-American artist Kat Eng. According to her website, she sat in front of the flagship location of clothing giant H&M sewing for eight hours, to make a point about conditions for garment workers in Cambodia.

Eng was stitching together two and two-thirds dollar bills. That is the amount of money that a Cambodian garment worker makes in a day. The sum gives the project its name, “</3” or “Less Than Three.” She went back and forth over the papers using black and green thread, and affixed an H&M tag.

Earlier this month in an industrial park outside the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, government soldiers fired on crowds of workers participating in a general strike, killing at least four people and wounding many others. In a statement on her website, Eng said she wanted to call attention to the protests, the latest of many.

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