The African Child Labor Behind Everyday Products

Brooke Brown
December 5, 2019

The electronics we buy, planes and trains we ride, and other consumption habits we practice hold an important key to a devastating problem, affecting families all across impoverished “red zones” in Madagascar. 

Forced to survive lawless conditions perpetuated by poverty, children as young as 4 are sent to dig through the earth to make ends meet... for one controversial mineral.

Mica, a strong, flexible, and ultra-conductive mineral, keeps our devices powered without overheating.

But once it leaves the stockpiles - which takes an entire family months to unearth (sold for barely 2 CENTS per pound) - more troubling cover-ups follow. 

Since African exporters sell mica in competition with Indian markets, China (the country with the greatest demand) can buy cheap and sell at high profits. 

NBC News reports that culprits across the global supply chain are hard to track. Some companies even insist that the existence (yet low-to-no enforcement) of anti-child labor policies is enough reason to believe their hands are clean. 

Madagascar’s 46,000 tons in mica exports in 2018 alone proves otherwise. Yet we can still demand change!

Human rights advocates encourage the purchase of responsibly-sourced goods and sending a donation to a vetted organization that helps provide food, education, childcare, and job training to the unregulated global mica mining hotspots.

Through small actions like this, change and connection will ripple through our diaspora.

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