There is a child labour documentary I recommend called “Gem Slaves“, filmed in Mererani, Tanzania, that depicts young boys ages 8 to 14 who mine for Tanzanite in hopes of earning money so they may provide for their families who are living in the grips of poverty. Bearing witness to this, I could not help but connect the dots that I have witnessed throughout Africa between blood ivory, blood diamonds, and blood gems. Because of the high demand for these natural resources, there will always be a constant supply of child labourers.
We as consumers can remedy this situation by taking responsibility for our consumerism by researching where a product originates from prior to purchase. This is not only happening in Africa as the China Labor Watch has reported incidents of child labour abuse within eight of Samsung’s manufacturing plants where children are beaten into submission and made to work long hours without food, protective gear, or compensation. The documentary “Gem Slaves” reveals young boys working in mines who are bare foot, without protective gear, in an environment so polluted with dust that many suffer from respiratory infections. Child labourers work harder and longer in hostile conditions where there isn’t any food, pay, or restitution for their services.
Children want to play and go to school and receive an education with their fellow peers. Eat adequate meals and not worry about going hungry, or carry the burden of providing for their family by working in mines or prostituting themselves so they can survive another day. Gone are the days where we blatantly allow this to happen to our younger brothers and sisters who lay destitute before our eyes. By taking responsibility for our consumerism, children will not be abused or prostituted for our obsolescence.
The precious gems are not the stones unearthed by the tiny hands of children but the children themselves throughout the world that suffer so that consumers like us can wear a piece of jewelry if only for a moment.
China Labor Watch. (2012, September 4). An Investigation of Eight Samsung Factories in China. China Labor Watch. Retrieved from http://www.chinalaborwatch.org/report/64
One World TV. (2007, June 8). Gem Slaves: Tanzanite’s Child Labour – Part 1 & 2. YouTube. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/geQrt1LDvu8