Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hearts of Darkness: Gemstone Workers Die Young in India

Posted By on Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 11:46 AM

The National Labor Committee recently released a report detailing the illness and deaths of gemstone workers in India from silicosis. Since Tucson hosts an enormous gem show every year, this is something to be aware of. Here is a portion of the press release:

The National Labor Committee has released an explosive new report: “Hearts of Darkness, Workers in India, Including Children, Will Die Young Grinding Gemstones for Valentine’s Day.”

• An eight-year old boy squats in front of a primitive grindstone, using his fingers to press the semi-precious gemstones against the wheel to shape them. He is covered in deadly silica dust. It swirls around him. Younger children earn 11 cents. Most gemstone grinders started working when they were 12 or 13.
• More than 2,000 men, women and children have died miserable deaths from silicosis contracted while grinding gemstones—heart shaped agate pendants and ornaments, earrings, bracelets—even Star of David pendants and rosary beads—for export to the United States.
• Adult workers earn as little as 17 ½ cents an hour to do one of the most dangerous

jobs in the world. Some thirty percent of all gemstone grinders will die of silicosis, as well as six to ten percent of their non-working neighbors and family members who are also exposed to the silica dust.
• When poor workers borrow money from the “traders”—who supply the raw stone and control the manufacturing and export of the gemstones—they become “bonded labor.” If a worker died, his wife is expected to pick up the work, and their children.
• The introduction of simple technologies, a wet grinding process in combination with exhaust ventilation systems can drastically reduce exposure to the deadly silica dust.
• The Government of India has done nothing to enforce its labor laws to protect the gemstone workers.
• The National Labor Committee has launched a campaign, asking the American people to sign onto a letter to the International Colored Gemstone Association, located in New York City, which will be copied to over 600 bead stores across the country, asking them to work to end the exploitation, misery and negligent homicide of the gemstone grinders. We are also appealing to the U.S. government for help.

PDF of report: here
Photographs: here
Video footage of gemstone workers, child workers, interviews of workers suffering from silicosis. here

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Irene Messina

Today | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed
PiYo Strength Class

PiYo Strength Class @ Floor Polish

Thursdays, 4:30-5:30 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

Staff Pick

James G. Davis (1931-2016): Down at the Tower Bar, A Retrospective

Celebrating the career of Tucson artist James G. Davis with a selection of paintings and prints made… More

@ Etherton Gallery Sat., Sept. 9, 7-10 p.m. and Tuesdays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Nov. 11 135 S. Sixth Ave.

» More Picks

Submit an Event Listing

Popular Content

  1. Koch Brothers Infiltrate Pima County Schools With a High School Econ Course (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  2. Better Late Than Never: 1968 Film Makes World Premiere (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  3. Board of Supes Set To Discuss Christy Proposal for Countywide Sales Tax for Roads (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  4. Let's Listen To That Awesome New Calexico Single (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  5. The Weekly List: 24 Things To Do In Tucson This Week (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)

© 2017 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation