http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/images/size340/Diamonds_Credit_everything_possible_via_wwwshutterstockcom_CNA_12_9_15.jpgWashington D.C., Jan 3, 2016 / 04:26 pm (CNA).- Imagine being woken up in the middle of the night by a dark figure in your room. He presses a gun to your head and demands that you get up. You and your family are dragged out of bed and led to a mining field, where you are forced to dig for hours on end.
They may be the proverbial “girl’s best friend,” but diamonds are far from friendly for many of those involved in the mining process.
With abuses ranging from forced labor to the funding of child soldiers, many diamonds still carry the shadow of blood and conflict, even decades after the first attempts to address some of the more troubling practices in getting the stones from their rocky deposits to a glittering setting.
What – if anything – can Catholics do to counter the immense human cost still attached to some of these gems?
Plenty, according to Max Torres, business professor and Director of the Management Department at The Catholic University of America.
“In this economy, the consumer is king,” he told CNA. “The day that consumers want to get worked up over diamonds, this will stop, whatever abuse it is we’re trying to eradicate, it will stop.”
While there are many steps in the process and levels of moral responsibility from consumers to the diamond exporters themselves, Torres maintained that ordinary people can still work to change large-scale moral problems in the industry.
“Do not underestimate the power of the consumer to move supply-chain decisions throughout the economy,” he stressed.
Clear stones; Blood-red controversies
Despite the 2006 hit film “Blood Diamond,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, many consumers are still unaware of the controversy surrounding the diamond industry. Meanwhile, the need for accountability and higher ethical standards is still sorely felt by many working to mine the precious gems.
In recent decades, the conversation surrounding diamond mining has focused on the so-called “blood diamonds” – those mined in conflict areas whose profits are used to fund the bloody war efforts. Also called “conflict diamonds,” these previous stones are most associated with the illicit industries backing of civil wars in Angola, Sierra Leone, the Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Liberia.