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For over a decade, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has suffered intense conflict in the mineral-rich eastern region. Tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold are in high demand for use in jewelry, cars, and electronics like phones, computers, and cameras. Armed groups compete for these resources, known as conflict minerals, exploiting the land and devastating local populations. Over 6 million civilians have died, making this the deadliest conflict since World War II.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act requires companies that use minerals from Congo or an adjoining country to file a report identifying the minerals come from.

This reporting requirement has reduced violence in Congolese mines.

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Despite these improvements, violence remains. The DRC is considered the rape capital of the world. On average, 48 women are raped every hour. Gang rapes, genital mutilation, rape-shooting, and rape-stabbing are committed by armed groups, gangs, and government and police forces. Many of the victims are children and babies. Rape victims and children born of rape are often rejected by their families. HIV is rampant, and cases often go untested and untreated. Rapists almost always go unpunished.

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In 2016, 46 children aged 18 months to 10 years, were abducted and raped by militias in eastern Congo. Some young victims’ injuries were so severe that their internal organs could not be repaired. In a landmark case, 12 of the militia members were convicted of crimes against humanity for rape and murder.

Militias compete for power, money, and resources and this means violence. We cannot end this violence without ending the conflict-minerals trade.

It’s up to us to buy from companies that support the conflict-free trade. Find the companies with the best practices here.