In the Congo, explains Eve Ensler, militias use rape to fracture communities and the threat of sexual violence to coerce slave labor to mine coltan (a colloquial name for columbite-tantalite ore) which is used to produce capacitors that power cell phones, iPods, and other gadgets.
"We create those atrocities through our consumption," says Ensler.
She is proposing that electronics manufacturers and their customers—us—began to concern themselves with the notion of "Rape-Free" products in which the raw, mineral components of consumer electronics are traced back to sources that can be verified to have procured them ethically. (She allows that "Rape-Free" is probably not a moniker that would be comfortable plastered on boxes and signs.)
It's without a doubt one of the most horrible but compelling things I've heard in a while. I've been considering a parallel notion lately about the shocking rate we're using a limited mineral supply to make what are essentially disposable bits of gadgetry. While I don't doubt that every effort will be made by profit-driven corporations to develop ways to produce goods even if rare minerals are fully depleted, the gulf between now and a future where minerals can be safely reclaimed and reused is fretfully wide. [via Treehugger]