links and sources
One in six children 5 to 14 years old — about 16 percent of all children in this age group — is involved in child labor in developing countries.
An estimated 1 million children work in the mining industry worldwide
Child labor reinforces intergenerational cycles of poverty, undermines national economies and impedes achieving progress on national levels.
Rubies are the most expensive gem per carat. More than 90 percent of the global ruby trade comes from Myanmar, where child labor has been widely reported.
Artisanal miners are not employed by a mining company, but depend on the minerals they find to earn a living. They commonly face labor exploitation – trapped in a cycle of working in poor conditions for little money. Work in the mines is labor-intensive, and involves the use of low-tech, often dangerous methods of extraction, without appropriate supervision or safety gear.
Crafting gems and jewellery into fine pieces for the commercial market is a process also tainted by exploitation. Children in Thailand and India may be forced to toil for long hours doing everything from cutting and polishing gemstones to working with jeweler's tools and torches.
The children sustain injuries working with the sharp, hot and often heavy equipment. cuts to the hands are common from using sharp equipment or from pushing stones against sanding machines with bare fingers. The detail required makes children vulnerable to eye strain and headaches. Their hand bones are still growing and may be deformed by the repetitive tasks. They are often exposed to toxic chemicals, such as silica dust from the gems, which cause lung disorders such as silicosis.
stats and facts
13 Products Most Likely Produced by Child or Forced Labor
WorldVision's Report on Child Labor in the Jewelry Sector
Free2Work's Rating of Companies on the Issue of Child Labor
[under the orange "INDUSTRY" flag in the right column, choose "Jewelry," and see the list of large jewelry chains that are terribly unethical]
International Initiative to End Child Labor
International Labor Organization on Corporte Social Responsibility
Unicef on Child Protection from Exploitation and Abuse
Compassion.com on Child Labor Facts
Child Labor, Health, and Welfare Issues in Asia's Gem & Jewelry Sector