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Africa: Child Labor/Slavery in Chocolate
Transcript of Africa: Child Labor/Slavery in Chocolate
By: Maggie Sledge
Period #: 6
How does it affect the government/leadership and policy?
How does it impact the economy?
How does it affect the people and their everyday lives?
The African children, cocoa farm owners, and chocolate-selling companies are all involved in this problem.
This cruel activity is occurring in Western Africa (Mainly Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana)
The start of forced child labor dates back to the 1800s and continues to this day.
In Western Africa, there are children as young as age 5 being forced into making chocolate. Some are forced through human trafficking while others are sent to earn money for their families. This kind of labor includes working with machetes, carrying sacks filled with cacao pods heavier than the child, and beatings if something is not done right.
The children are either sent into the business to earn money for their families, sold into it through human-trafficking, or told by human-traffickers that the job pays well.
In Africa, the children and families are surrounded by poverty at every angle. The children, as early as age 5, feel the need to then try and help their family at any expense. Some families will even sell their children to a human-trafficker without knowing what will happen to their child.
Outlook for the Future
What predictions are being made for what will happen with this challenge?
How does it affect relations with other countries - especially the US; What role does the US play?
The government has tried to lower the amount of people involved in the child labor, but has not succeeded. There is still a myriad of African children working long, brutal hours harvesting cacao beans. However, the Food Empowerment Project writes, "In 2010, Ivorian government authorities detained three newspaper journalists after they published an article exposing government corruption in the cocoa sector." This proves that the government is completely aware of how the children they are supposed to be protecting are being treated. With what seems like no end to this problem, only the consumers can decide whether chocolate should still be produced in mass quantities. Chocolate is not a necessity, so if chocolate was boycotted, the children could escape the harsh conditions of their work.
The economy of Africa is extremely poor. The choice to go into the chocolate labor is the result of this crippling economy. If the word is spread to more consumers of chocolate about the way the workers are treated and they stop buying it, the economy could be severely impacted from the loss of consumption. Africa's harvested cacao beans have brought in a large percentage of the total revenue for the citizens. However, the country is still in poverty. The economy is helped through the demand of chocolate through the world. Unfortunately, the residents of the area are harmed.
The people are impacted in their everyday life through the torture they experience while harvesting the cacao. Over 100,000 children experience the worst forms of child labor. This includes using a machete, a tool that has the strength to slice the child's flesh with every strike, to open the cacao pod and pry it open with the tip of the blade to access the cocoa beans. They are also exposed to the dangerous chemicals that are used to deal with the insects. Children as young as age ten are able to do this and do not wear protective clothing. As for food, the children are given the cheapest food available such as corn paste and bananas. They can also be forced to sleep on wooden planks without access to a sanitary bathroom. A percentage of kids do not attend school either which violates the International Labour Organization’s Child Labour Standards.
African child labor affect Africa's relations with other countries because many people do not want to buy the product once they are aware of how the chocolate is made. A myriad of people have done their research to figure out which brands of chocolate do not use cacao from a slave farm. The other percentage are either unaware of the problem as a whole or do not believe the problem affects them. Many companies in the US have stopped buying from them because of the terrible conditions in which they force young children to work. This then makes the farms look bad because everyone knows about their children as well as causes them to lose business. Unfortunately, some companies still buy from those farms despite the inhumane conditions.
From this challenge, it is evident that people might not ever completely stop buying cacao from farms that involve child labor. Although the number of companies associated with the child labor farms is slowly decreasing, there does not seem to be an end to it anytime soon. As more people become aware of the issue, there might be more precautions taken before deciding what brand of chocolate to use. When a former victim of the child labor was asked how he felt about people still eating that kind of chocolate, he replied with, "When people eat chocolate, they are eating my flesh." He does not know how the people that are aware of the conditions those children have to go through can enjoy something the children had to suffer to make. The consumers have all the power to make these farms go out of business, but the only question that remains is, "Will they?"
Food Empowerment Project Staff. "Child Labor and Slavery in the Chocolate Industry."
N.p., 2016. Web. 5 May 2016
Hauschildt, Thomas and Marsha van der Krabben. "Child Labour in the Chocolate Industry."
International Policy Digest.
N.p., 20 Dec. 2012. Web. 5 May 2016.
International Labor Rights Forum Staff. "The Chocolate Industry Has a Century-Long Hisotry
of Forced and Child Labor in the Production of Cocoa."
International Labor Rights Forum.
N.p., 27 Feb. 2014. Web. 5 May 2016.