Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ripple Effect : Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend?

Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend?

Sasha Martin

On road trips with girlfriends we would often imagine the ideal wedding, Pinterest inspirations included. We would start with the dress and end up consumed on a Tiffany's site because what does a wedding start with? For most, a rock-- of course! One of the happiest days of a man and woman's life starts with a peak at a diamond: the grand proposal. But, don't you ever wonder? Where does such a strong, glamorous, gleaming, can't-take-my-eyes-off-you jewel come from? Some of us may know that they come from Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone... you know, Africa! But, who gets them for us then? 

First, let's refer to the diamonds in concern as they should be: blood diamonds or conflict diamonds. This means that they were illegally mined or stolen by militia or terrorist groups so that they might continue their funding. If you have seen Blood Diamond with our friend Leo you already have a small picture of what this industry involves. Of course, these groups don't do the mining themselves--oh no. They force men, women and children to dig in environments that often reach above 100 degrees to find their diamonds. If these men or women or children refuse the demands forced upon them? They lose a limb or their life. 

It's not just Africa. In India the men and women are spared and it's the children who get the full brunt of the work. They are forced to cut the smallest diamonds because their hands are small and delicate enough to do so. These children end up with serious medical problems from this activity alone, ranging from bad eyesight (from the constant straining of their eyes) to lung infections (from inhaling the diamond dust).

The first thing many people respond with is horror and, "Well thank god some organizations are regulating that now!" Sorry to disappoint the hopeful, but the organizations in place to avoid such terrible violence make very little difference, stamp of certification or no. The Kimberley Process began backed by 70 countries, including the US, as an organization to stop the selling of blood diamonds. The Kimberley Process is enforced by advocacy programs that observe mines and the people working in mines, watching for inhumane treatment or the sparking of violence. Well, when Global Witness, one of the main advocacy programs, dropped out of the Kimberley Process in 2011, everyone was shocked to hear that it was because they felt their efforts and the Kimberley Process were not affective and never had been. Global Witness' final breaking point was the Kimberley Process' allowance of the exportation of diamonds from the Marange Fields (in Zimbabwe), notorious for human rights abuse. Some programs even believe that the Kimberley Process has really just become an excuse to turn a blind eye to the violence and abuse of human rights because the members of the Kimberley Process, all 70 countries, lack the political will to prevent one another from breaking the rules.

Reconsider investing in diamonds. Reconsider having a proposal that revolves around a rock with blood dripping from its history. This "blood" may be figurative to you, but in places like the Congo it is very real. Even if the diamond is certified as a peacefully, humanely obtained diamond, can you be sure it really is? It is difficult to believe any clearance stamps, because the organizations promising this are of little to no effect. 

If you really love each other, a diamond shouldn't matter. The two of you and your existence together and in love is what should matter. There are many other beautiful stones to satisfy the craving of a beautiful ring. Be a citizen of the world; don't buy into the jewel that has cost so many people their safety.

Do it for children like this, victims of blood-diamonds:

Miners in 2006 in the Marange diamond fields in Zimbabwe. Despite reports of widespread human rights abuses in the Marange fields, Zimbabwe is being allowed to export its diamonds.

For more information/Bibliography:

Bonsor, Kevin, and Candace Keener. "How Diamonds Work." HowStuffWorks. Discovery Company, n.d. Web. 17 July 2012. <>.

Eligon, John. "Advocacy Group Quits Coalition Fighting Sale of 'Blood Diamonds'" The New York Times. The New York Times, 06 Dec. 2011. Web. 17 July 2012. <>.

Women in the World and Relationships Section, Sasha Martin:         
   I made my own major, concerning emotions explored through literature, art, cognitive science and psychology, and am minoring in creative writing at UC Berkeley. My passions are writing and the arts in general. I created Unleashed for the empowerment and enlightenment of women everywhere. I am the editor, designer and a contributing writer, and happen to be extremely proud of the staff Unleashed has developed. I truly hope this magazine speaks to each and every woman.    

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