What can we do to end child slavery?

This follows my earlier posts – Chocolate’s dark side – Interpol: hundreds of thousands of child slaves on cocoa plantations – Is fair trade working to end child slavery?

It sounds crazy but nearly 70% of the world’s 3.5 million ton cocoa harvest comes from West African plantations where child slavery is widespread. 1.2 million tons comes from Ivory Coast alone, where the problem is particularly bad.

It seems to me this evil still exists because the global commodities market has no incentive to let go of slavery and its various euphemisms, such as human trafficking, bonded labour and forced labour. As long as people buy from slavers, we will have slaves on the plantations.

So, apart from giving up eating and drinking cocoa, what can we personally do to get the food industry to clean up its act?

I was about to shrug my shoulders and put the blame on corrupt people and governments and everyone else in the food chain but then I got curious about a bar of dark chocolate we bought at the supermarket the other night. It’s a Turkish brand, which enticed us with a choice blend of Venezuelan cocoa and Turkish pistachio nuts. The packaging looks great but there’s not a word about whether the cocoa, or the pistachio for that matter, are ‘slave free’. Then it hit me. It was staring me in the face.

There, on the reverse side of the package, above the barcode is a toll-free, customer enquiry number. Most bars of chocolate have them too. I really think we need to buy chocolate on sale and then call these numbers, it will cost us nothing but a bit of our time. We need to call them and ask the question “Do the ingredients in my chocolate come from slave and child-labour free plantations ? If not can I have my money back please, because it will make me sick.”

You can download a pdf of the Anti-Slavery report here.

You may also be interested in Interpol’s report on their 2009 operation in Ivory Coast ;

Fairtrade Foundation (good luck getting your head around this site);

Tony’s Chocolonely 100% slave free cholocate (a cool site, even if it’s all Dutch to me).

1 minute challenge:

Thank you for following my investigation. Now, what is your opinion? Will we ever be able to enjoy slave-free chocolate? What do you think we should do about this problem?

Leave your comment in the box below.

Vimeo <— watch the video of this post


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