Harvard University: Stop Supporting Child Slavery

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An estimated “1.8 million children work on cocoa farms in West Africa,” some as young as five years of age (Professor Orlando Patterson Lecture 2018).

These children, mainly from Burkina Faso and Mali, are either abducted or coerced into situations of forced labor by traffickers who take the children across the border into Ghana or the Ivory Coast (The Dark Side of Chocolate, 2010). From there, they are purchased by cocoa farmers. At these cocoa farms, children work long, hard days cutting cocoa plants with sharp machetes, working with dangerous pesticides without any form of protection, and carrying loads upwards of 100 pounds (United States Department of Labor, 2016).  Children are not typically paid for their labor (Professor Orlando Patterson Lecture 2018). If they work too slowly or try to leave the farms, they are often beaten and whipped (The Dark Side of Chocolate, 2010). The vast majority of these children will never have the opportunity attend school (The Dark Side of Chocolate, 2010).

The cocoa exports from Ghana and the Ivory Coast, two of the largest cocoa exporters in the world, are a vital component in the production some of the world’s most well-known chocolate companies: Hershey, Nestlé, and Mars (O'Keefe, 2016).

Both influential chocolate company employees and government workers in the Ivory Coast and Ghana repeatedly refuse to acknowledge the issue of child slavery in the cocoa industry (The Dark Side of Chocolate, 2010). However, it is unrealistic that these employees are truly unaware of the abuses taking place in their supply chain, considering that many of the chocolate companies in question have offices in the Ivory Coast and Ghana (The Dark Side of Chocolate, 2010). In the Ivory Coast, reporters looking to report on the abuses taking place in the industry have been jailed or have gone missing (The Dark Side of Chocolate, 2010).

Due to the fact that the Ivory Coast and Ghana are dependent on cocoa exports, large chocolate companies definitely have the power to change the current system.

The chocolate industry, worth nearly $100 billion, is booming, yet many companies continue to prey on young, vulnerable child slaves (The Dark Side of Chocolate, 2010).

There is unethically sourced chocolate for sale in vending machines across Harvard’s campus.

We are asking Harvard University to stop supporting child slavery in the chocolate industry and to stop selling unethically sourced chocolate. Please join us by signing and sharing!

Harvard: Let’s be a model for our community and the change we want to see in our world!



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