Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'Conflict minerals' fund war

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Re: Province honours Congo activist, March 25.

Nobel Laureate nominee Dr. Denis Mukwege's visit to Winnipeg is an ideal time to highlight the important issue of conflict minerals.

Dr. Mukwege is highly regarded for the healing work he does with women who have faced sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In the DRC, 48 rapes take place every hour. War there has led to increased sexual violence against women, increasing the spread of HIV/AIDS as one of many consequences.

Canadian consumers may be unwittingly contributing to this atrocity. The conflict is fuelled and funded by an illegal trade in minerals in a number of African countries, including the DRC. These minerals are used in everyday items such as cellphones, computers, tin cans, jewelry and light bulbs. As consumers, we could play a role in ending the violence, provided we knew whether products we buy use minerals sold illegally to support war.

In Canada, the Conflict Minerals Act, which just had its first reading in Parliament, would make it possible for Canadians to choose products without conflict minerals. The Just Minerals campaign is also underway to raise awareness and encourage Canadians' support of the bill.

MARILOU MCPHEDRAN AND MARY SCOTT

Co-chairs, Institute for International Women's Rights Manitoba

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 27, 2014 A14

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