By now, we’re all pretty well versed with the horrible issues surrounding the diamond trade. With films like Blood Diamond bringing the issue to the mainstream media, it’s become more common to speak out against diamonds. Many women I know have decided that, when they get engaged, they either want a vintage ring or a ring with another stone or no stone at all so as not to create more demand for an industry that is corrupt and brutal, especially towards women.
However, there are many more things that we enjoy as members of first-world countries that also contribute to slave labor, child labor, rape, imprisonment, and many more awful injustices around the world.
First up, your iPhone. According to “The Scary Truth About Your iPhone” on Mother Jones:
The 3.5-inch LCD screen is reportedly made in Taiwan and China by Wintek, which faces allegations of low wages, forced overtime, and ripping off migrant workers…
The iPhone includes a tantalum capacitor. After a United Nations report linked its manufacturer, Kemet, to the illegal mineral trade in eastern Congo, the company vaguely announced it “supports avoiding” tantalum from the region…
A 16GB iPhone 3GS contains 12 gold-plated parts. Producing 1 ounce of gold creates 80 tons of waste. Layers of middlemen make it difficult to trace the source of the gold (or any other metal) in an iPhone, making it easy for minerals from conflict zones to slip into the supply chain.
And much more. The graphic on that article is excellent, so check it out. Your iPhone also comes from Apple, who has recently been under fire for horrible working conditions in its factories in China.
Next, according to CNN.com’s article “The Human Cost of Chocolate,” in the Ivory Coast, more than 200,000 child workers are working in the fields – many against their will – to produce the chocolate we love to consume around the world. And that’s just in the Ivory Coast; there are other areas that produce cocoa, as well, and those don’t fare much better. This is even despite the Harkin-Engel Protocol that was signed on September 19, 2001 and denounced these practices:
More than 10 years ago, two U.S. lawmakers took action to put a stop to child labor in the cocoa industry. Despite pushback from the industry, the Harkin-Engel Protocol, also known as the Cocoa Protocol, was signed into law on September 19, 2001.
In an upcoming documentary, “Chocolate’s Child Slaves,” CNN’s David McKenzie travels into the heart of the Ivory Coast – the world’s largest cocoa producer – to investigate what’s happening to children working in the fields, 10 years after the protocol was signed.
The CNN Freedom Project examined in September 2011 what effect this protocol has had over the years and also what some of the major issues are surrounding slave labor and the cocoa industry.
So if you’re thinking about getting a diamond ring and chocolates from your sweetie this Valentine’s Day, or if you’re thinking about giving him or her an iPhone to show how much you care, you might want to think twice.
Looking for something you can do to help? Sign this petition at Change.org to urge Apple to improve working conditions in its factories in China.
Image courtesy of J. Paxon Reyes on flickr.