WOMEN SAY STOP THE WAR - END SEXUAL VIOLENCE
WOMEN SAY STOP THE WAR - END SEXUAL VIOLENCE in The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
Congolese women and children are paying a heavy price for the ongoing exploitation of natural resources and the illegal trafficking of arms. This exploitation is the major cause of the currently escalating war, conflict, violence, and displacement in the DRC.
In the U.S., the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) is campaigning to highlight the real causes of war in the DRC and the atrocities suffered by civilians – mainly women, children, and the elderly - in this endless war, fueled and funded by our continuing demand for mobile phones and the paraphernalia of our I.T.-driven lifestyle.
The international community, the UN, U.S., and others countries must show transparency in their involvement in the DRC. Mobile phones are covered in the blood of innocent victims.
Join us in our campaign. Write to Congress and the President calling for an end to the suffering of innocent people in the Congo as a consequence of Information Technology.
Mobile Phones Costing the Earth
As your cell phone rings and you put it to your ear, a tiny mineral piece from Africa is making this call possible: coltan. This commodity, along with other mining products from the Congo River Basin, is contributing to the loss of forests and the continuing war in the region.
10 Years of DEVASTATION TO OUR PLANET AND HUMANITY
Since 1998, over four million Congolese have died due to a conflict that has involved over eight African countries and rebel militia groups. At the heart of the conflict is control of the DRC's natural resources, which include gold, diamonds, copper, cobalt, and 80% of the world’s coltan ore, a necessary mineral used in making computers and cell phones.
What is coltan?
Coltan, short for columbite tantalite, is the principal source of tantalum, a rare and valuable metal in huge demand in today's high technology industries. Tantalum is an extremely hard, dense element, highly resistant to corrosion. It has a very high melting point and is a good conductor of heat and electricity. This microchip component is sifted from mud. The costs and technology involved in sourcing coltan are low – it is found by digging in the soil and it is easily sold.
Who uses coltan?
The electronics industry is by far the biggest consumer of tantalum. Demand has been growing since 1992, mainly because of its use in personal computers, mobile phones, and MP3s. Coltan is the only thing capable of making tiny electronic gadgets work well and is present in every processor-chip device.
Where’s the problem?
The problem is our ever-increasing demand for the DRC’s resources – in particular coltan mainly extracted from forest areas. Mining activities are carried out by poor workers, many of whom were once farmers. Now they often work guarded by militias, armed groups, or soldiers.
The forest and its wildlife are threatened by the mining camps and the construction of routes for coltan extraction; for example, the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, home to the protected Okapi (Okapia johnstoni), and the Kahuzi Biega National Park, where the endangered mountain gorillas live. As the pristine forest is denuded for mining, gorillas are being killed and their meat is sold as bushmeat to the miners and rebel armies that control the area.
What have mobile phones got to do with war in the Congo?
Eighty percent of the world’s known coltan reserves are located in the eastern part of the DRC.
The increased demand and exploitation of coltan helped fuel the war in the Congo resulting in more than 4 million deaths since 1998 as estimated by the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
What is happening to women in the DRC?
The UN Development Fund for Women estimates that hundreds of thousands of women and girls have been raped since the conflict began. Some have been held in sexual slavery, gang raped by armed men who then often mutilated their genitals.
Many women are so badly damaged that they have been left with “obstetric fistula”, a condition that leaves them incontinent and unlikely to survive a full-term pregnancy. There are no exemptions from the rapists’ barbarity: victims are as young as three and as old as 75.
The DRC needs:
The war to end NOW.
Rich countries to STOP selling arms in the Great Lakes Region of Africa.
Multinational companies to be held to account for the destruction caused by mining.
The DRC, a country the size of Western Europe, has gold, silver, zinc, copper, cobalt, diamonds – and
80% of the world’s reserves of coltan.
Yet most Congolese people have very little to show for living in this resource-rich paradise. Of the DRC’s sixty million people, 75% live on an average of one dollar a day. Ten million have no access to drinking water or electricity.
The DRC government is not in control of the eastern part of the country where coltan is mined. This area is controlled by foreign-backed, armed groups. Local people are enslaved, raped, tortured, and dispossessed, because of the greed and irresponsibility of international agencies and the multinational corporations known to be involved in the coltan and other natural resources trade.
Congolese women are asking for peace, an end to war, and the right to live and raise their children in dignity in their country.
Write to your Representatives and Senators with this information.
Ask the President how the U.S. Government is able to help women in the DRC.
Text your mobile phone provider to ask where their coltan comes from, and how it is extracted.