The prevalence of human trafficking, child slavery, and abusive labor practices in the cacao industry is surprisingly under-reported. With the average U.S. citizen eating over 11 pounds of chocolate (that's about 120 chocolate bars), per year, it is incredible to consider how few of us are aware of the atrocities involved in 70 percent or more of the world's cacao production.
According to an investigative report by the BBC, hundreds of thousands of children are being purchased from their parents or outright stolen and then shipped to Ivory Coast, where they are enslaved on cocoa farms. Destitute parents in these poverty-stricken lands sell their children to traffickers believing that they will find honest work in Ivory Coast and send some of their earnings home. The terrible reality is that these children, 11-to-16-years-old but sometimes younger, are forced to do hard manual labor 80 to 100 hours a week. They are paid nothing, receive no education, are under fed, and are often viciously beaten if they try to escape. Most will never see their families again.
This doesn't have to be. YOU can bring change. Millions of people will celebrate Easter in a few weeks. Most events will have chocolate. Buy fair trade chocolate for your events and personal use. Consider this: if every church goer bought just one fair trade product, one million families, in the global south, would be lifted out of poverty for ONE WHOLE YEAR! Ending child slavery isn't impossible. In fact, it's VERY doable.
This crime thrives in the darkness. By buying fair trade and direct trade chocolate, you can introduce the subject of human trafficking to your friends, group and church.