Barrick Gold’s contribution to International Women’s Day is a Q&A with a Canadian nonprofit dedicated to “advancing the interests of women in the minerals exploration and mining sector.” While gender diversity in the mining workforce is a laudable goal, Barrick’s avoidance of mentioning the impacts of its operations on women in local communities is glaring.
The horrific environmental impacts of Barrick’s operations in places like Porgera, Papua New Guinea, and Marinduque, Philippines, have destroyed local ecosystems and traditional livelihoods, impacts that often fall heaviest on women. But in Porgera in particular, Barrick’s operations have led to a more direct assault on women – an epidemic of rapes by Barrick security forces.
Barrick addressed many of these rapes through its Porgera Remedy Framework, and others through a legal settlement. We recently engaged in some debate over an assessment of the Remedy Framework, but one aspect of the assessment is worth highlighting here: the rapes that were not addressed by the Remedy Framework, and which Barrick has no ongoing program to address.
Barrick has no ongoing program to address rapes that occurred after December 31, 2010, the Remedy Framework’s cut-off date – or to address earlier rapes, now that the Remedy Framework is closed. But the assessment by Enodo Rights (hired by Barrick to do a review of the framework) found, in the course of a very short visit to Porgera, “13 claimants in just one community, Apalaka . . . who had either never heard of the Framework or only heard of it relatively recently, and who believed they had legitimate claims.” This aligns with a report by Harvard and Columbia’s human rights clinics, which found that “numerous women with [sexual assault] claims simply had not learned about the mechanism . . . or had not been properly informed of the mechanism in time to make a complaint.”
Even more worrisome, the Enodo assessment reports an incident during their visit to Porgera where a local activist presented a document that “requested that the Framework be re-opened to
provide remedies to ‘[m]ore than one hundred rape victims’ who had missed out.”
While we haven’t engaged in any comprehensive documentation, we’ve heard similar reports of numerous survivors of sexual violence by Barrick’s security forces who have been left with no remedies – including at least six reports of rapes after 2010.
If Barrick wants to be a leader in women’s rights, talking about gender diversity in the workforce is not enough. They need to show action to provide remedies to the women and families harmed by their operations, and a real commitment to preventing such harm in the future.
Photo of Kanowna Belle Gold Mine CC BY Railways of Australia