a life without chocolate A life without chocolate? Hard to imagine and even harder to bring to life. The opt out of never tasting hot chocolate melt on your tongue a cold winter afternoon or the creamy taste of your grandma’s homemade chocolate cake on your cousins birthday. To completely deselect chocolate from your everyday life is unthinkable for most people.
The story behind the chocolate we love so much is hardly as sweet as the taste. When my godmothers oldest daughter decided never to eat chocolate ever again, there were more than the desire of a healthier lifestyle behind her decision. The vision of under aged African children, working in over 35 degrees without water or any kind of salary, forced into the chocolate industry by their families in the need of money or by money-occupied traffickers, where more than enough for her to decide not to eat any kind of chocolate ever again.
The chocolate industry today is huge; child slaves produce more than 40 % of all chocolate in world. It so beyond our imagination, and difficult to relate to, therefore us as the consumers “forget” and displace it. It is easier to displace it than to actually deal with it.
African children in the age between 8-15 working in the cocoa fields is definitely not a uncommon sight if you travel through the Ivory Coast in Southern Africa today. As a journalist from CNN wrote in his article about child labor in the chocolate industry:
“Abdul holds the yellow cocoa pod lengthwise and gives it two quick cracks, snapping it open to reveal milky white cocoa beans. He dumps the beans on a growing pile. Abdul is 10 years old, a three-year veteran of the job. He has never tasted chocolate.”
(Source 1) Some of the worlds best know chocolate brands, use child slaves, most of them trafficked illegal, to produce chocolate to the western countries. In 2001 the chocolate industry gained a lot of negative focus in the medias, because of the use of children in the production of chocolate, but it has hardly changed the actual conditions for the chocolate workers. Of course it opened a lot of peoples eyes and properly also their thoughts when they open a pack of Marabou Friday evening. But the step from spreading the message, to actually changing the use of under aged children and child labor, is easier said than done. In a globalized and developed world, where all powerful nations are connected equally in a cooperation in the aim of solving Worldwide problems and the protection of human rights in countries where it is needed the most, we still allow children like Abdul to dedicate his whole life to the cocoa fields – just so we can enjoy a Snickers in our lunch break.
To put some numbers on child labor in the Ivory Coast, more than half a million children are working as slaves for the chocolate industry. They are all a part of the worst form of child labor in the world. 97 % of the farm owners on the Ivory Coast have not been reached yet, and they have not realized the liberty deprivation child labor causes.
There are many different opinions on the degree of positive development in child labor, and most firm owners is convinced that the degree of improvement today is brilliant, even though children like Abdul still passes out like flies in the extreme heat on the cocoa fields. Of course there is small improvements, but there is need for bigger and more extreme actions if we want to change the conditions for the farmworkers.
The message is mentally getting through, but the fiscal part is lagging behind. Today we understand the wrong part of the idea, using children in order to produce chocolate cheap and fast – But we have to change our mind and our habits, and in that way boycott the chocolate industry until workers like Abdul is off the market. I believe this is the only way, to completely destroy the use of child slaves in the Ivory Coast in Africa. We cannot change their sight on human beings, but we can push them so far, they are forced to change their way of treating children and human beings.
Sources Source 1 http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/19/child-slavery-and-chocolate-all-too-easy-to-find/
Other sources http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children_in_cocoa_production