Rideau Institute’s Mel Watkins responds to Globe and Mail

Rideau Institute’s Mel Watkins responds in a letter to the editor to a Globe and Mail piece praising tycoon Peter Munk , denouncing Munk’s dismissal of gang rape perpetrated by his workers as a ‘cultural habit.’ (21 February 2011, Letters to the editor, Globe and Mail)

Cultural habits

Faced with the fact that “a few Barrick workers in Papua New Guinea were recently implicated in a gang rape – leading to accusations that the company was violating human rights,” Peter Munk, founder and chairman of Barrick Gold Corp., offers two defences: first, that it would be impossible to police the behaviour of 5,500 employees, and second, that it’s so particularly in countries “where gang rape is a cultural habit.” (I Love My Children. But Other Causes Are More Worthy – Focus, Feb. 19)

The first defence is, whatever Mr. Munk intended, a case against having companies that have so many employees scattered around the world that they can’t keep track of their criminal behaviour (although they presumably can keep track of them on matters relevant to the corporate bottom line). As to the second defence: Why does Barrick Gold choose to have operations in countries where it apparently knows that, in Mr. Munk’s words, “gang rape is a cultural practice”?

Mel Watkins, Toronto

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