Think of the most beautiful child you can ever imagine. A newborn baby of your own? A new cousin, a friend’s child?
Now imagine that child starving.
And not only starving. Sold at a price. Toiling, toiling, toiling for hours and hours every day under a scorching sun. Sweating, aching, begging to play.
Those big beautiful eyes long since having stopped crying themselves to sleep as they collapse in the evening; the pain for mummy and daddy taking them up, holding them, comforting them at night only distant memories. The only thing ever being done to their little bodies is ABUSE.
Imagine that. I look at my own sons, but sorry, I cannot imagine them being subject to this.
But that is everyday life for at least 200,000 children TODAY, 10th of April 2007.
And that is the price for every chocolate bar, chocolate Easter egg, chocolate candy you eat.
According to this recent report, the UN organisation ILO has had to conclude that at least 12,000 children have been sold into slavery in cocoa farming in the Ivory Coast alone. (I strongly recommend that you learn more here, too.)
But that is only the beginning.
Ever since I begun covering the food industry seven years ago, similar reports have emerged regularly. For instance, a report sponsored by several bodies including the US Government estimated that 284,000 children were being held in slavery on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon.
That was in 2002. Since then, very little has happened – if you except the regular high-profile declarations that all claim to be underway to abolish child slavery in the cocoa industry.
One such declaration, involving major chocolate companies, promised that cocoa slavery would be abolished by 2005. They FAILED, or alternatively did not try to lift a finger to help these suffering children.
Maybe they do not have children themselves. Or simply are too coldly cynical to care whose little bodies are being torn apart for them to earn an extra cent or so.
So, what can you do? Stop eating chocolate?
That’s actually only going to make things worse. Slavery and trafficking will only shift to other, more profitable industries. Growing more profitable crops, such as narcotics, will easily become tempting.
However, what you can do, is to keep writing, e-mailing and telephoning to your local chocolate makers. Ask them one simple question:
Why is the cocoa in your chocolate not Fairtrade?