Child slaves in cocoa fields

cocoa beans. Photo from media.treehugger.com

The slavery of children- and humans in general- has become a “normal” aspect of many countries around the world.  These children are forced into labor from a young age, and transported to various countries around the world to serve the interest of the first world, capitalist society where they are paid little to nothing. The most daunting part about it: they often seem content because they do not know any different.

According to CNN, the enslavement of children in the Ivory Coast in the cocoa fields is a norm.  There have been efforts over the past 10 years to eradicate this grave injustice; however, words can only say so much.  The application of the words is what matters, and the application of the chocolate industry’s promise to eradicate child slavery has not been prominent on its agenda.  This is partially to do the very remote locations of these fields- but that is no excuse.  According to a Tulane report on the protocol (which I got from CNN), 97% of the farms have not been told about the end of child trafficking and forced labor, according to CNN.

Child labor in a cocoa field. Photo from globalexchange.org

This is simply unacceptable.  If the chocolate industry was even remotely serious about ending this injustice they would have done a better job of informing its farms. Only three percent in the last 10 years were informed. How is this possible? That has barely put a dent into anything! The reason behind the slow relay of this message is because child labor is an easy way to gain a large profit. And profit is the main objective of any industry.

Child slaves often come from a vulnerable situation at home- due to poverty, lack of education, deteriorating country conditions and other factors.  Sometimes parents even sell their children into slavery in order to make a quick profit.

I understand the importance of making a profit in a capitalist society; however, not at the expense of innocent children.  These children have so much to live for, but are given no opportunity to reach their true potential. All for the sake of capitalism.

The trafficking of children, and humans in general, needs to be brought to the attention of every individual in this society because it is so prevalent. It invades every aspect of our lives- from the clothes we wear to the food we eat, and even the people who wait on us in restaurants.  However, few would recognize it because it is not presented to us in its traditional form.  Instead, today’s form of slavery is often named other things, such as forced labor or indentured servants.

People need to understand the implications of their actions.  When they buy clothes or shoes, it is most likely at the expense of a slave working in a developing country.  When they get a massage at a massage parlor or go to a nail salon, some of those people are humans trafficked from other countries and forced to live and work in degrading conditions.  And when they buy and eat chocolate, it is at the expense of child slaves.

It is a mind boggling concept to think that slavery- such an awful institution that has been condemned for centuries- still exists today.  But it is true. And it needs to come to an end, and it begins with understanding the implication of our actions.

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About Haley Behre

I graduated from Syracuse University in December 2011 with majors in newspaper journalism and women and gender studies. Using these majors, I aspire to become a journalist who writes about human rights issues. I have held internships at the Syracuse New Times, Dash Media PR Firm, Syracuse Post-Standard and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. I also had an internship at the Not For Sale Campaign Syracuse chapter, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. I was born in Seoul, Korea on September 30, 1990 and moved to the United States before I was one year old. When I was 8, my family and I moved to Norwich, England for three years. While I was here I was immersed into a new culture and got to experience many things other children my age do not get to. Over the three years, I visited Ireland, France and the Netherlands several times, and Belgium, Wales and Sweden once. In the winter of 2010, I got an amazing opportunity to visit Kenya for a month. This was by far the single most eye-opening experience of my life thus far. The natural beauty of the landscape and its people do not compare to anything I have seen. I currently intern for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press in the hopes of getting a full-time job at a newspaper or non-profit after.
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3 Responses to Child slaves in cocoa fields

  1. Pingback: Hershey will invest $10 million to reduce child labor | haleybehre

  2. Pingback: What does civilized really mean? « Linda's Viewpoint

  3. Pingback: Tell Ferrero and Lindt Not to Use Child Labor to Produce Chocolate | One Blue Stocking

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