Conflict Minerals Act: Consumers complicit in sexual violence

UN Photo - IDP woman in DRC

Internally displaced woman at a camp in North Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Photo credit: Marie Frechon / United Nations

Letter to the Editor – Winnipeg Free Press

March 21, 2014

With Nobel Laureate nominee Dr. Denis Mukwege Mukengere’s upcoming visit to Winnipeg, we would like to bring an important issue forward for your readers. Dr. Mukwege is the founder and medical director of Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and will be speaking at the Pangages Theatre March 27. He is highly regarded for the healing work he is doing with women who have faced sexual violence, and their children, in the DRC.

In the DRC 48 rapes take place every hour. The war there, one of the deadliest conflicts since World War II, has led to unprecedented levels of sexual violence against women, increasing the spread of HIV/AIDS as one of its many consequences. And Canadian consumers may be unwittingly contributing to this atrocity.

The conflict is fueled and funded by an illegal trade in minerals in a number of African countries, including the DRC. These minerals are used in things we use every day such as cell phones, computers, tin cans, jewelry and even light bulbs. As consumers, we could play a role in ending the violence – provided we knew whether the products we buy use minerals sold illegally to support war.

In Canada, the Conflict Minerals Act that would make it possible for Canadians to choose products without conflict minerals has had first reading. And the Just Minerals Campaign is underway to make Canadians aware of the issue and encourage support of the bill. We must all insist that Canadian companies’ supply chains are free from the scourge of conflict minerals. Please join us in expressing your support for this bill with your MP.

Marilou McPhedran and Mary Scott – Co-Chairs

Institute for International Women’s Rights – Manitoba
971 Corydon Avenue, PO Box 273
Winnipeg, MB R3M 0Y0
Phone: 204 888 2996

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