The diamond industry is one of the most important industries not just in the world but also, globally. The diamond industry has impacted human life on a global scale from personal interactions to how society governs itself. This article will explore and define some of the unethical practices that are prevalent in this industry.
The Diamond Industry
Diamonds are not only one of the hardest substances known to man, but also it exhibits some other unique characteristics such as its high thermal conductivity and its affinity for radiation. These qualities make it one of the most important materials in both jewelry and electronics industries. The global diamond industry is worth more than $70 billion annually. Additionally, the industry provides employment to more than 1 million people from all over the world.
The market is by definition a monopoly, and as such is controlled by a few international players – DeBeers being one of the biggest. They have been accused of monopolizing and controlling the prices of diamonds. Moreover, most diamond mines are controlled by the company DeBeers Anglo American plc. which has been accused of corrupting African regimes in order to gain control of their natural resources. All of this has led to a lot of criticism of the diamond industry. It has been accused of promoting war, funding corrupt regimes and marketing diamonds as an investment to keep prices high. All in all, much of the ethics that govern our daily lives have no place in this industry.
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Unethical Practices in The Diamond Industry:
1) The Promotion of War:
War has been going on for so long, and still the world is not free from the madness. In fact, war only brings about a whole new set of problems to everyone. But in countries like Congo, it has caused untold suffering to the people there. It has led to millions of people becoming refugees and tens of thousands dying from disease and starvation.
2) Funding Corrupt Regimes:
Some of Africa’s biggest diamond producing countries, including Angola and Congo, have been on the brink of war for years due to fighting by various factions. It is clear that a lot of the suffering is due to the control the DeBeers have on this industry. The control of the diamond market restricts access for many new players, which leads to more monopoly and much more money for international corporations. The large profits and lack of accountability has led to a lot of corruption in these African states.
3) Exploiting Workers:
In a lot of diamond mines, the working conditions are far from ideal. The workers are often subjected to inhuman working conditions and forced to work without any protective gear. Also, they earn next to nothing while they are risking their lives. Many conflicts have been due to the exploitation of workers in these diamond mines. These conflicts have led to millions losing their lives and leaving several millions more displaced and homeless.
4) Exploiting Nature:
The diamond industry has come under criticism for exploiting the natural resources of the countries they are in. The diamonds are mined using methods that harm the environment and endanger human life by causing diseases, such as TB. In many places, the vast majority of people live in dire poverty, and the diamond industry exploits these people at their most vulnerable. However, few people are aware of this fact.
5) Exploiting Women:
This industry is often associated with the oppression of women. The mining and processing of raw diamonds are often done by women, and as such they are exposed to various types of harm. They are exploited in so many ways. They work for little or no money, abuse and use them sexually and are treated badly at every step. The working conditions in the mines can be extremely dangerous, with workers sometimes being buried alive, which often leads to many deaths.
The Bottom Line
The diamond industry is indeed an unethical industry in a lot of ways. It is also a global monopoly and contributes millions of dollars to the coffers of corrupt regimes and warlords. All this has led to numerous conflicts in Africa, which have killed millions of people and left countless others homeless. In the end, we can only hope that this practice comes to an end and that ethical practices are adopted in its place so as to protect workers, the environment and most importantly the people who live in these countries.
Businesses in the diamond industry have been accused of being unethical by promoting war, funding corrupt regimes and exploiting workers. While this sounds shocking, it is very true. This article has given brief overview on few of the unethical practices that are prevalent in this industry.