Chocolate and Child Slavery

The Ivory Coast produces a large portion of the world’s cocoa beans, some sources say up to forty percent. Apparently they want to increase that figure to fifty. None of those facts are problematic. But one issue some might not be aware of is the use of pre-teen and teen slaves in cocoa production there. According to Okio Credit USA there might be 100,000 youth slaves in the Ivory Coast. A case study from American University says that slave traders are trafficking boys ranging from the age of 12 to 16 from their home countries and are selling them to cocoa farmers in Cote d’Ivoire. They work on small farms across the country, harvesting the cocoa beans day and night, under inhumane conditions. Most of the boys come from neighboring Mali, where agents hang around bus stations looking for children that are alone or are begging for food.

A UNICEF estimate pegged the number of children trafficked in West and Central at 200,000 per year but they are not all for the cocoa industry. Consumers of chocolate in the West aren’t to blame for the enslavement of African youth, because they have no direct involvement in the horrific practice. It is also likely most of them aren’t aware a portion of the chocolate sold in the West is made from cocoa beans picked by slaves.

Articles like these sometimes seem to imply the point is to make people feel bad, and that is not true at all. The point is to inform ourselves about the sources of our food, so we don’t inadvertently wind up supporting the abuse of human rights in this case, and environmental destruction in others. A recent awareness campaign claims Hershey’s won’t divulge their African cocoa suppliers because they might be buying cocoa beans from farms using child slaves.

One key aspect of the situation from the consumer point of view is fair trade chocolate. When you see chocolate products with Fair Trade labels, they should have cocoa bean sources from farms that don’t use child slaves or abusive labor practices. One example is Divine Chocolate, which is associated with Lutheran World Relief, an international non-profit working to alleviate poverty.

Fair trade chocolate might cost slightly more, but you won’t be supporting child slavery. Children shouldn’t have to be enslaved and beaten for any reason, but especially not so people in affluent countries can have a snack or dessert.

Image Credit: Public Domain


Related Links

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Emma Stone
Julia Sandler6 years ago

People are sick animals! So sad that humans purposely choose those 'without a voice'--animals and children to endure unspeakable horrors....

Bill K.
Bill K6 years ago

i was surprised when i wrote to the major US chocolate companies asking if they make sure their chocolate isn't picked by slaves the usual answer was they didn't know because it would be too expensive to verify the sources of their chocolate since they buy from middlemen rather than the growers themselves. for something as important as this they should be taking the time.

Rita White
Rita White6 years ago

great article

Emma S.
Emma S6 years ago

All the more reason to buy fair trade.

Jessi A.
Jessi A.6 years ago

is nestle a human rights abuser?

jude T.
jude T6 years ago

Jane s. Hi your choc sounds great....well done, you must get a fair trade label. I love fairtrade choc, tea etc and buy regularly. x

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson6 years ago


Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W6 years ago


AbdulAziz A.
AbdulAziz A6 years ago

I think awareness has existed for a long time and its time some one took the lead and petition the companies purchasing cheap supplies without a care.

Concerns should be aired out to them and possibly organise sit ins in their head offices. This would bring out the public awareness and possibly some action.
Just refusing to eat a brand of chocolates by a small group of people does not solve the problem. If there are known companies other than Harshe, Nestle then they need to be identified and action taken against them. They need to hurt where they feel it "IN THE POCKET"

Lets have a petition please against these criminal organisations.

Ameer T.
Ameer T6 years ago

This article thwarts consumer power and personal responsibility for consumer actions.

It is such a releif to know that the western individual at least can continue to consume without caring for the source of the products. That is absolutely the very mindset of masters of the world who care not for anything but their own comforts and luxury at the cost of everyones slavery and hardship.

But what should one tell the children working in sweat shops in China and India? What should one say to the mutilated women and children in Africa? What does in say to the children abducted from various parts of the world to work in brothels near your homes?

Whatever would be said, it would not be said that the west is to blame. Dont look to us for help because we are not the advocates of humanity or the solution to your problems. we want our cup of cocoa and care not where and how it came to be.

Great going care2!! If you dont care i dont caretoo.