The US administration reportedly considers the suspension of a law aimed at eliminating the trade in conflict minerals. The move could put women at a higher risk of experiencing sexual violence, which is closely linked to artisanal mining in Congo.


In Eastern Congo, local militias are fighting over the control of areas where metals such as tantalum, tin and gold are mined. The minerals are of great importance for the industry as critical components of electronic devices.

Rebels use the income to buy weapons and fund their activities. Experts have argued militias use rape as a weapon of war to destabilize the region in order to be able to conduct their illegal economic activities.

Dodd-Franck-Act to control conflict mineral trade

In an effort to solve the conflict in DRC, the US in 2010 has adopted a law intended to eliminate the trade in conflict minerals. Section 1502 of the Dodd-Franck-Act requires companies to investigate the supply chain of minerals and ensure that they are not sourced in rebel-controlled mines in the DRC or neighboring countries.

The new US administration of president Donald Trump, however, has intentions to suspend the law. A new executive order would put the rule on hold for two years, The Guardian reported.

Impact of conflict mineral trade on sexual violence

Such a suspension could have negative consequences for the conflict in Eastern Congo. A study has shown that the prevalence of sexual violence is higher in areas near mines. An increase in artisanal conflict mining due to less restrictions, therefore, could put women in Eastern DRC at a higher risk of experiencing sexual violence.

The suspension of the Dodd-Franck-Act would undermine the efforts to stabilize the region. It would be a step backwards in addressing one of the most important underlying causes of rape as a weapon of war in Congo.


Photo: Weapons retrieved from rebels in Congo. UN Photo/Sylvain Liechti

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