The use of slave labor in producing the world chocolate industry is a profoundly repugnant practice and a gross violation of human rights. Many of the cocoa beans used in the production of chocolate come from countries in West Africa, where child labor and forced labor are prevalent.
Children are often taken from their families and forced to work on cocoa farms, enduring long hours and dangerous working conditions. They are denied the opportunity to attend school and receive an education, perpetuating the cycle of poverty and exploitation. Adults, too, are subjected to forced labor on these farms, often working for little or no pay and enduring physical and emotional abuse.
This labor exploitation in the chocolate industry is a symptom of a broader systemic issue of economic inequality and colonialism. A few large multinational corporations dominate the chocolate industry, making obscene profits from the cheap labor of vulnerable communities in the Global South. This system perpetuates poverty and inequality and contributes to environmental degradation, as these corporations prioritize profit over sustainable and ethical practices.
Justice and human rights demand that those in positions of power address the root causes of this issue by dismantling economic and power structures that allow for continued exploitation and abuse. These measures include holding corporations accountable for their actions, demanding greater transparency in supply chains, supporting fair trade practices, and empowering communities to demand their rights and dignity.
As consumers, we also have a role in fighting for freedom and justice for our oppressed brethren in the chocolate industry. By educating ourselves on the issue and making informed choices about the products we purchase, we can support ethical and sustainable practices and hold corporations accountable for their actions. We can also advocate for change by demanding that companies take responsibility for their supply chains and prioritize the well-being and rights of workers and communities. I want to recognize one company that appears to be supporting this urgent cause. The makers of Tony’s Chocolonely, place the following on their chocolate wrapper:
“We exist to end modern slavery and illegal child labor in the chocolate industry. Our vision is 100% slave-free chocolate. Not just our chocolate, but all chocolate worldwide. The more people join us, and share our story, the sooner 100% slave free chocolate becomes the norm. The choice is yours. Are you in?”
I do not know the folks at this company but it is good to see that they at least acknowledge the problem and seem committed to doing something about it. Are we in?