It’s very shocking to report that there is child slave labor going on in Africa, and the ages range from 5-15 years old.
There were three class action lawsuits, in California that accused Nestlé, Mars and Hershey of ignoring the fact that there is human rights violations happening in their cocoa suppliers, while knowing it is going on. While this ensues, they are projecting themselves as human rights-friendly.
In 2000, the documentary “Slavery: A Global Investigation” exploits how deep and expanded, the chocolate industry’s ties are with cocoa farms that utilize child slaves for labor. The guardian of 19 children who were former slaves, told the makers how the children worked from dawn until dusk each day, locked within a shed at night like dogs. In order to go to the bathroom, they were given a tin cup. They had been stripped naked, tied up and routinely beaten.
They also spoke about how thousands of children were being purchased from their parents. Most of the kids are from countries like Mali, Togo, and Burkina Faso, for money, or kidnapped. Then they are shipped to Ivory Coast like cattle, where they are enslaved on cocoa farms for mass profit.
Even though it says in their code of conduct that child labor is not used in it suppliers, researchers from the Fair Labor Association found evidence that contradicts their policy. In the evidence, it was found that forced labor occurred, and for 14 hours they worked in dangerous conditions.
They would perform tasks that were hazardous to their health such as utilizing machetes and carrying/transporting heavy loads. A spokesperson for the Nestlé corporation spoke with The guardian: “To date we have identified 3,933 children working on their family farms (around 10% of the children surveyed) who were involved in hazardous tasks classified as child labor.
We have included half of them in our Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System, which includes providing school kits, obtaining birth certificates and developing income generating activities for the families of 312 identified children. Unfortunately, the scale and complexity of the issue is such that no company sourcing cocoa from Ivory Coast can guarantee that it has completely removed the risk of child labor from its supply chain.”
In 2001, the cocoa industry signed an agreement to stop and self-regulate child slavery by 2005. Then the deadline was delayed until 2008, then to 2010. It’s 2017, and we STILL have these giant cocoa manufacturers profiting off of child labor.
In a report done in 2015, it was reported that the number of children enslaved had increased 51 percent from 2009 to 2014. 1.4 million children are currently enslaved, and that’s the result of a 10 percent rise, from 1.1 million children since 2009, that are living in slave-like conditions.
In 2005, three Malian citizens who had been forced into working on cocoa plantations in the Ivory Coast, filed a class-action lawsuit in a federal court in California, claiming ADM, Cargill (in 2015 Cargill acquired ADM’s global chocolate business for an enterprise value of $440 million) and Nestlé — through buying massive amounts of cocoa harvested by child slaves — “aided and abetted” child labor, slavery and torture.
As the lawsuit against ADM continues, one of the world’s largest producers of cocoa liquor, powder and butter, sold away its cocoa business for $1.3 billion in August 2015. Olam International Ltd, a Singapore-based agribusiness company bought the company.
West Africa is the main source for about 60% of the world’s cocoa, and Godiva. Godiva is the only chocolate maker that has abstained from making commitments to phasing out child labor from its supply chain. Even though it has been announced that Godiva would move to purchasing cocoa from child labor-free plantations by 2020, they have been very ambiguous in what motives and steps they are pursuing to roll out safe working environments, equal pay, and no forced labor of children.
Fowler’s chocolate has consistently spoke out about the slavery of children, yet, they still purchase their cocoa from suppliers in the Ivory Coast that have no guarantee of openly admitting they enforce child labor.
The BBC opened an investigation in 2010 to investigate the suppliers that sell chocolate to the UK. They found evidence of human trafficking, child slavery and labor. It was found that even with safeguards, there is no certainty that any chocolate has been made from child slaves. Chocolate thats sold as a Fairtrade product, are misleading as it isn’t sure if child slavery is enforced within their chain of supply.