Chocolate. Its semi-sweet flavor leaves its consumer with a hunger for more. But everything comes with a price. But while the chocolate may only have a price of $2.95, its emotional cost is much greater. The Ivory Coast supplies the world with 40% of its cocoa supply. Over half of that percentage is produced by child slaves. These children are abused and neglected, working from sun-up to sun-down, with little to no pay in return. And while many people do not care about how their chocolate is produced, the end of child slavery in cocoa farms on the Ivory Coast needs to become a bigger issue because it damages the economic balance of the Ivory Coast and ruins the futures of thousands of children.
“The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.” In the words of Stanley Lebergott, this statement could not hold more ground than it does describing the economy of the Ivory Coast. But this rich and poor conflict is coming at the expense of thousands of children, causing economic imbalance. For example, with the ever growing need for cocoa beans, a recent study has stated that the world cocoa prices “have fallen almost 24 percent since 1996, from 67 cents a pound to 51 cents ( Chatterjee and Raharan, Vision.ucsd.edu).” With a sudden increase in the need for cocoa beans and such low prices, farmers resort to child slavery for cheap mass labor. This causes the profits of farmers who use child slaves to increase and those who don’t adhere to this practice lose money. Overtime, this creates an economy of extremes: extreme wealth and extreme poverty. This is just one of the many reasons why child slavery in cocoa farms on the Ivory Coast needs to become a bigger issue within our society.
According to UNICEF, a non- profit organization that deals with worldwide issues, half of a million children are currently working on cocoa farms across the Ivory Coast. This means that there are half of a million children who aren’t going to school and learning. Instead these children are working relentlessly under harsh conditions. For example, in a photographic article describing and depicting the lives of cocoa farmers and their child slaves, a young boy was shown in a photograph working in a cocoa farm carrying a heavy bag of cocoa beans. The caption stated that “Sami Sery, age 7, works in a cocoa grove owned by his uncles in the village of L’Ssiri. Sami does not go to school (Christian, Money.cnn.com).” He is just one of the many children whose future has been ruined by child labor. And with the all-to-real difficulty of becoming well educated that already exists in West Africa, children who are enslaved have almost no chance. Many previously enslaved children have grown up to become prostitutes or drug abusers because of their lack of an education. This is just one more reason that until this becomes a prevalent issue within our society, the futures of these children will continue to turn to dust.
Even though there are many people who agree that this should be a bigger issue in our society, there are also many who don’t care where or how their chocolate is made. They are the ones who say things like “I don’t care, I just like chocolate” or “why should I care?” But, the real question is why should you not? For example, in an interview with a stockbroker regarding the origin of the cocoa beans he was buying, he stated he “didn’t know, didn’t care ( Kum- Kum Bhavnani, Nothing Like Chocolate).” All he seemed to care about was whether or not he made a profit. Is that what society has come to? Have we become so blinded by greed that we have lost compassion for ones as innocent as children? This case of child slavery should become a bigger issue because it is causing harm to the next generation. These kids are the future and possibly the rescue that our world needs. Ending slavery would give them a chance to be educated and break the cycle of poverty.
Everyday, children are put through awful circumstances just to give us as simple of a treat as chocolate. A treat they never even get to taste. Child slavery in cocoa farms on the Ivory Coast should be a bigger issue within our modern day society because it’s ruining the futures of so many children and causing economic disruptance. To end this injustice, it will take an army of thousands, but it can start with you. Take the first step. Spread the information to anyone who will listen. Or take it a step further and buy Free – Trade chocolate, chocolate that is produced without child slavery. Together, we can finally end this horrible injustice.
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