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Article: Child labour in the diamond industry

Child labour in the diamond industry

Child labour in the diamond industry

  • Child labour is a widely reported and criticized issue in the diamond industry.
  • Children work in diamond mines and polishing procedures in poor conditions.
  • Child labour is prevalent in India and Africa.
  • Children come in contact with minerals, oil, and machinery exhaust.
  • Workers are often paid only a fraction of the value of the stones they cut.
  • The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions claimed child labour was prospering in the diamond industry in Western India.
  • Economic growth in Western India in the 1980s-90s led to an increase in child workers.
  • Organizations such as Janine Roberts, The Anti-Slavery Society, and Survival International raise awareness about the issue.
  • The United Nations declared 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.
  • The Indian NGO and Child Labour News Service (CLNS) work towards eradicating child labour.
  • Child labourers constitute nearly 3% of the total workforce in the Indian diamond industry.
  • In Surat, the percentage of child labourers in the diamond industry is as high as 25%.
  • Some argue that employing child labourers in diamond factories is risky due to the potential loss or damage of high-cost diamonds.
  • The South Gujarat Diamond Workers Association claims that child labour is less prevalent in the diamond industry compared to other sectors.
  • A study conducted in 2005 showed a decrease in the use of child labour in India's diamond processing industry.
  • During the civil war in Sierra Leone, children were used as combatants and child labourers in diamond mines.
  • The police and army in Zimbabwe used brutal force to control access to the diamond fields and exploit unlicensed mining.
  • Children in the Marange diamond fields in Zimbabwe work long hours with no pay.
  • Angola, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are mentioned as countries with significant child labour and forced labour in the diamond industry.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor listed these countries as having a high incidence of child labour and forced labour in the diamond industry.
  • Child labourers in diamond mines are exposed to health risks and hazards such as malaria, dysentery, and cholera.
  • Poor working conditions in diamond mines lead to overcrowding, abuse, and long work hours.
  • Child labourers in diamond mines suffer from eye strain, headaches, malnutrition, and respiratory problems.
  • Workers are paid based on the number of diamonds they can polish or cut per day.
  • The diamond industry is known for hazardous work sites, open pits, and exposure to heavy minerals and machinery exhaust.

Exploitation and bonded child labor in the diamond industry

  • Child workers are used as cheap labor in the diamond industry to raise more profit.
  • The diamond industry is known for its exploitation of youth workers, similar to mines and sweatshops in South Africa or India.
  • The diamond industry is overpriced and funded for wars.
  • Many families in third world countries rely on their children's income to survive.
  • Working at a sweatshop is often the only option for children who do not have access to education.
  • Employers sometimes pay the family in advance and the child works to pay off the debt, known as bonding.
  • Bonded children cannot pay off their family's debt due to interest, leading to a life of servitude.
  • The debt increases over time, trapping bonded children and passing on the cycle of servitude to their descendants.
  • Bonded child labor is a common practice in the diamond industry.
  • Bonded children face exploitation and are unable to escape their circumstances.

Impact of civil wars on the diamond industry

  • Civil wars disrupt diamond production and reduce the supply.
  • Countries like Sierra Leone, which depend on diamonds for economic activity, face disruption in production and a thriving black market in conflict diamonds.
  • Conflict diamonds drive down the price of diamonds produced in these countries.
  • Civil wars financed by conflict diamonds lead to the loss of lives, including child workers.
  • The diamond industry in conflict-affected countries suffers from instability and illegal trade.

Forceful relocation of indigenous Bushman people by De Beers

  • Indigenous people, including children, are often forced to relocate to make way for diamond mining.
  • In Botswana, the Bushman tribe has faced threats and persecution due to the interests of the mining company, De Beers.
  • The Bushmen have been living in the land for tens of thousands of years.
  • The government has cut off their water supplies, taxed them, fined them, and subjected them to violence to force them to leave the reserve.
  • Several international supermodels have supported the campaign against the forced relocation of the Bushman tribe.

Working and living conditions in the diamond industry

Working conditions of miners and local people

  • Long working hours in hazardous environments
  • Lack of safety measures and protective equipment
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals and dust
  • Low wages and exploitation by mining companies
  • High rates of injuries and fatalities in mining accidents

Living conditions of miners and local people

  • Lack of access to clean water and sanitation facilities
  • Inadequate housing and overcrowded living conditions
  • Limited healthcare services and high prevalence of diseases
  • Insufficient education and limited opportunities for children
  • Poverty and economic instability in mining communities

Gender issues in the diamond industry

  • Gender inequality and discrimination against women
  • Exploitation and sexual harassment of female workers
  • Limited participation of women in decision-making processes
  • Unequal pay and limited career advancement opportunities for women
  • Disproportionate burden of unpaid care work on women

Child labor in the diamond industry

  • High prevalence of child labor in diamond mining
  • Exploitation and hazardous working conditions for child miners
  • Denial of education and limited opportunities for child laborers
  • Physical and psychological harm to child laborers
  • Inadequate enforcement of child labor laws and regulations

Child labour in the diamond industry Data Sources

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