How would you feel if the chocolate you eat during Easter, Christmas, even the chocolate you are given during Valentines day, was actually the product of Child Labour?
Its not as sweet anymore, is it?
Child Labour in the Chocolate industry is something that has been an unexplored problem for years.
Chocolate Manufactures have been using inhumane means of production, that only a handful or organisations have uncovered. The industries are very secretive and it is nearly impossible to expose more of the operation where human rights violations do occur. In 2004, the Ivorian First Lady’s entourage allegedly kidnapped and killed a journalist reporting on government corruption in its profitable cocoa industry.
Industry giants such as Mars, Hershey, and Nestle were among some of the worst chocolate farms in terms of human trafficking, slavery and child labour.
This is closely linked to the location of the farms. According to the Food Empowerment project:
Chocolate is a product of the cacao bean, which grows primarily in the tropical climates of Western Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The cacao bean is more commonly referred to as cocoa, so that is the term that will be used throughout this article. Western African countries, mostly Ghana and the Ivory Coast, supply more than 70% of the world’s cocoa.The cocoa they grow and harvest is sold to a majority of chocolate companies, including the largest in the world.
Now that you have the context, lets have a look at the situation socially. In Western Africa, the demand for cocoa has grown, and because of this so has the need for labour, but farmers only make $2 an hour, which is below the poverty line.
As a result, they often resort to Child Labour to keep the prices competitive.
Due to the amount of poverty surrounding West Africa, most children begin working from as young as 12 in order to help support their families. Relatives may even sell their children, with no knowledge of the dangers of the workforce they are going to be residing. Or children are kidnapped and trafficked.
As horrifying as this information is, there is some light at the end of the tunnel as the big three brands are attempting to be fully certified and to rid their companies of child labour by 2020. However, according to the Chocolate Scorecard, only Mars will have achieved this goal.
This situation is one of the reasons organisations like Fair Trade are so important; they offer support and improvement of working conditions for marginalised producers and workers, whilst achieving greater equity in the trade.
They are giving these workers a voice.
If we as a society keep buying into companies like this, then we are giving them ammunition. We are endorsing Child Labour. We can no longer afford to be ignorant to the pains of others and we have to a stand.
Chew on that for a moment.
Still here? Then check out this article about what the world will be like in 2050.