Is Your Gadget Addiction Supporting Rape In The Congo?

The Enough Project has a new report out by John Prendergast that says, actually, yes, it is. The reasons why, along with a larger version of Orlando Bloom talking on his cell, after the jump.

That sexual violence is horrifyingly prevalent in the Congo, undermines the society and hurts women likely comes as no surprise to most readers by now. But that our consumption habits may help fuel it likely does.

Prendergast says:

Sexual violence in Congo is often fueled by militias and armies warring over "conflict minerals," the ores that produce tin, tungsten, and tantalum-the "3 Ts"-as well as gold. Armed groups from Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda finance themselves through the illicit conflict mineral trade and fight over control of mines and taxation points inside Congo.

But the story does not end there. Internal and international business interests move these conflict minerals from Central Africa around the world to countries in East Asia, where they are processed into valuable metals, and then onward into a wide range of electronics products. Consumers in the United States, Europe, and Asia are the ultimate end-users of these conflict minerals, as we inadvertently fuel the war through our purchases of these electronics products. This trail has been well documented by the United Nations and others.

In other words, like conflict diamonds before them, these minerals continue to be mined and sold to foreign interests, where they too easily mix with the world wide supply chain and get lost in the shuffle. The end beneficiaries in the Congo are some of the same militias that carry out organized campaigns of sexual violence against the women in the Congo.

Prendergast has the stats, too, like the fact that armed Congolese militias earn $85 million each year off the tin that goes into your cell phone and the solder on every circuit board in every piece of electronics you've ever bought; the earn $8 million a year from the tantalum used to make capacitors in your rechargeable devices; $2 million a year from the tungsten that makes your cell phone vibrate; and between $44 and $88 million each year in the gold that goes into your jewelry and some of your electronics. That's a lot of money with which they are able to buy plenty of guns (and other weapons) with which to terrorize the civilian populace.

Currently, there's no concerted effort to track the original sources of these minerals, which would help prevent so much money from getting into the hands of these war criminals. Enough is calling for the electronics industry to voluntarily implement a sourcing program that would allow them to identify (and remove) from their supply chain conflict minerals. And, since they're doubting that the electronics industry is going to voluntarily spend money tracking or cut off a source of cheap raw materials during a recession regardless of how many women are brutally raped and murdered because of it, they're calling on Congress to mandate supply chain management for electronics companies, and for President Obama to elevate these issues to a higher status in the Administration — you know, like what Hillary Clinton promised at her confirmation hearing. You might think about asking Congress and the Administration to do the same.

Can You Hear Congo Now? [Enough]

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Eve Ensler: "Rape Is A Very Cheap Method Of Warfare"
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