The bitter truth.

Behind your sweet chocolate.

What exactly is going on with the child slaves of Ghana?

Sophia Ba.

Children all over Ghana have fallen victim to one of the worst businesses in the world, the one with enslaved people. A major issue in Ghana is child slavery in the cocoa business. Children in villages are sold by their parents to traffickers. Oblivious to the harsh duties the children must fulfill, parents blindly send them away for reasons that mainly have to do with lack of money. These children are put through horrible tasks everyday just to make chocolate. Most of them haven’t even tried the chocolate they made. These children miss out on an education and a normal childhood. The children that are part of this suffer in ways that are unimaginable here in America.

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Where in the world is this happening?

The psychological consequences of working at a cocoa farm.

These kids are put under a great deal of stress and pain, and the effects are long lasting. Some of the effects include a change in their psychological health. According to the nonprofit cocoa initiative organization, “ that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and dignity ; work that interferes with children’s education…” This tells me that working at a cocoa farm would deprive children of a normal childhood, normal educational experience, and would even leave them without their families. Also, the consequences of trying to escape one of these farms are very harsh. Sometimes the children’s feet are sliced open, sometimes they are kept in dark rooms and whipped and beaten. This would make them feel trapped and scared, maybe even like they don’t want to live anymore. If I were in the position of one of these children, I would think that this is how life always is and that I am unwanted and unimportant. Here in America, people know and acknowledge that children have every right and opportunity to a good education and a good life. I believe that this applies to children everywhere, not just in America. If we live in a world where money and business is more important than the opportunities that every child deserves, then something has to change.

The physical consequences of child enslavement on a cocoa farm.

Working on the cocoa farms all day leaves the children with many injuries.

According to the Food Empowerment Project, “Cases often involve acts of physical violence, such as being whipped for working slowly or for trying to escape. Reporters have also documented cases where children and adults were locked in at night to prevent them from escaping.” Today in most parts of the world, no child is exposed to that sort of violence and danger. These actions could instill a fear within the children that they keep with them for the rest of their lives. Also, “The Guardian” news article explains one situation where guards would slice open the feet of any child caught while trying to escape. This behavior could leave scars both mentally and physically which could in the future remind them of the horrid childhood they had. Along with intentional abuse, these children also suffer from intense accidents that come from using machetes and other dangerous tools. These incidents could be avoided if they weren’t forced to work with tools that they had no experience with. The pain that comes from machetes is not small and not fast healing. Working all day is hard enough without having a life threatening injury. Normally child labor and abuse is rare and unheard of in the U.S, but that doesn’t mean it is okay anywhere else.

Believe it or not, YOU can stop this.

The consumers of the brands of chocolate that use child labor can help end this madness. The Food Empowerment Project is working on getting these solutions out to the public. A few of these solutions are ones that even children can do. The FEP encourages people not to “purchase chocolate that is sourced from Western Africa.” If enough people did this, these businesses could eventually shut down. People who do eat this chocolate are just as big an impact on ‘feeding’ these farms as the owners. If this gets out to many people, companies would stop buying their chocolate from those businesses and child labor won’t be needed anymore. One more company that is working on solutions for this issue is the ILRF or the International Labor Rights Form. They have been working on this for over a decade and are still trying to get this problem to the eyes of the nation. One of the things they have done so far is bring justice to the cocoa farmers through “public education, corporate campaigns, and engagement with partners organizing on the ground.” One of our last chances to fix this lies in the hands of the public. It is up to you to end this once and for all.

The people working on this have made a huge impact in getting it to end, read below to learn more.

The F.E.P, ILRF and other organizations have been working nonstop to end the child enslavement. And they’re starting to see some changes.

The ILRF has been successful with lowering the wages of farmers who own these cocoa farms. Low wages means the farmers have less money to keep their businesses open. The F.E.P works with the community to inform public officials about their work and their findings. “The Guardian” news article also mentions the lawsuit that was filed against Nestle. Nestle is a company that uses child slavery and labor to make their products. These successes get us one step closer to ending child slavery in the cocoa business.

Children are laboring on farms in Ghana as you are reading this. Wonder why?

For many reasons, it is children that are sent away to work on cocoa farms.

One of these reasons is simply because parents need money and this is an easy way to get it. The Cocoa Initiative says that “parents may put their children to work, and keep them out of school, to reduce labour costs on the family farm.” The adults don’t know what they’re sending their child into, they just know that they need the money. And even though working on a chocolate farm doesn’t pay much, it still pays. Another reason sending children away to work is a “money maker” for parents is because sending children to school costs money, money that most families don’t have. This lack of money prevents kids from having a well rounded education and gives them a sense that they are obligated to make money for their family. If you think you had it tough with a summer job, just put yourself in the shoes of one of these children; that would be a long walk.

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Leaving Child Labour and Returning to School
This video better describes what children miss when they go to work on a cocoa farm. Education completely passes children by as they work in dangerous environments all day. Every child deserves the right to an education that could give them great opportunities.

Works Cited

"Child Labor and Slavery in the Chocolate Industry." Child Labor and Slavery in the Chocolate Industry. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.

"Child Labour in Cocoa." ICI Cocoa. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.

Clarke, Joe Sandler. "Child Labour on Nestlé Farms: Chocolate Giant's Problems Continue." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 02 Sept. 2015. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.

"International Labor Rights Forum." Cocoa. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.