Rape and Conflict Minerals: Photographer takes on the technology industry through art

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fretwell photo
credit: Sarah Fretwell

What exactly is the link between tech and violence against women?

The DRC is one of the most resource rich countries in the world, yet the population is living in abject poverty as their resources are being sold out from under them. The DRC contains 80% of the world’s Coltan (Tantalum) and just about every other valuable resource – including gold, tin, diamonds, oil, Tungsten, and Rare Earth minerals.

There is a strong likelihood that the device you are reading on right now contains “conflict” minerals from the DRC. Armed groups extort large taxes and exert mafia style control over resources. The link between tech and violence against women is that the unregulated acceptance of “conflict” minerals in our mineral supply chain guarantees that there will be continued instability as opposing groups fight for power.

Conflict minerals are smuggled to neighboring countries like Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi. At smelters they are mixed into the world supply chain.

As long as conflict minerals continue to be accepted by world markets, groups will fight for access to them to fund their vested interests and small arms proliferation. There is no silver bullet for solving the complex crisis in the DRC, but continuing to allow conflict minerals into the supply chain prevents stabilization of the country.

And you just thought you were buying a new phone or an updated computer! Your purchasing decisions are actually funding (or not funding) a war.

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