Linked with Small Farmers Big Change – a campaign of Equal Exchange and its links.
Published on Small Farmers Big Change, by Phyllis Robinson, August 13, 2009.
(The following post was written by Dary Goodrich, Chocolate Products Manager)
… Sadly, an August 3rd press release from Interpol revealed just how alive and real forced child labor is on cacao farms in West Africa. On June 18th and 19th, Interpol ran the first operation of its kind to free children working illegally on cacao and palm farms in the Ivory Coast. 54 children were rescued and the press release describes the conditions in which the children were working:
“The children had been bought by plantation owners needing cheap labour to harvest the cocoa and palm plantations. They were discovered working under extreme conditions, forced to carry massive loads seriously jeopardizing their health. Aged between 11 and 16, children told investigators they would regularly work 12 hours a day and receive no salary or education. Girls were usually purchased as house maids and would work a seven-day week all year round, often in addition to their duties in the plantations.”
How can this be acceptable? How can an industry that knows this exists continue to allow it to happen? Especially an industry that turns around and profits by selling cocoa and chocolate to children in Europe and North America. The industry has been pressured since 2001 to tackle the issue and has repeatedly pledged to root out the problem. First they promised to stomp out forced labor by 2005, and in 2005 they said it would take just two more years. Yet here is proof that it has not only failed to curb child slavery, but, in fact, the press release states that there is an “increasing trend in child trafficking and exploitation in this south eastern part of Côte D’Ivoire” … (full text).