Monday, May 18, 2009

Sexual Violence in the Congo and That Thing Attached to Your Ear

Reader, I'm not sure of the sequence of events that led me from watching episodes of Alice on YouTube to this clip from Raise Hope for Congo:

I've heard of conflict diamonds, sat through the not-so-stellar Blood Diamond, but never conflict minerals. I couldn't connect the dots between the Congo, cell phones and rape. It's like this: three critical minerals used to make cell phones (and computers) are tin, tungsten and tantalum. (That last one I had never heard of until today. Yay for the humanities!) Which are all mined in the Congo. And to maintain control of natural resources in the area, the militia uses rape. Vile.

Raise Hope for Congo is packed with interesting stuff, but check out some nifty learning resources here.

What can you do, short of embracing your inner Luddite?

1. Urge manufacturers to sign the Conflict Minerals Pledge here.
2. Tell a friend.
3. Tell all your friends.
4. Check on the current policies of companies you buy products from. Apple addresses this in their corporate site, which you can see here. Way at the bottom, "In addition, we require Apple suppliers using Tantalum or Tungsten, metals used in a small number of components, to declare that the metals are not sourced from illegal mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo."

Not sure what mineral this is, but it sure looks dramatic, doesn't it?

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