Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The sweet bitter truth

Halloween is nearing, a time for trick or treat. Many Western children will be given chocolate candy for the treat. Chocolate’s billion-dollar industry starts with workers like Abdul, a 10 years old, a three-year veteran of the job. He has never tasted chocolate. Children such as Abdul don’t know anything about protocols or certification, prohibiting his exploitation. All they know is work.

At present, nearly 75 percent of the world’s cocoa is supplied by the West African countries of Ghana and the Ivory Coast, where nearly two million children work on cocoa farms.  40% children working in cocoa fields of Ivory Coast are not enrolled in schools and that only 5% of Ivorian children are paid for their work. According to UNICEF, hundreds of thousands of these children are engaged in the worst forms of child labor. UNICEF further estimates nearly 35,000* Ivorian children working on cocoa farms as victims of trafficking.

Many of the child-'slaves’ are physically and sexually exploited. Handling of chemicals and prolonged exposure to pesticides make these children prone to incorrigible respiratory and dermatological diseases. Negligent and unassisted working with heavy farm equipments and sharp tools leave many children crippled for life. 

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