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RCASA Sunday with Case Management: Chocolate and Child Trafficking: Happy Valentines Day?

In Sexual Assault Awareness on February 13, 2011 at 8:00 am

So let me just say that…everyday I learn something new.  Perhaps you guys knew about this topic, but I was completely unaware.  I can’t say that I was surprised when I learned of it.  Last Tuesday night, me and one of my close friends, traveled up Arlington, VA to attend a viewing for a documentary called, The Dark Side of Chocolate, http://www.thedarksideofchocolate.org/

Basically, children from surrounding countries are trafficked to work on the plantations and harvesting the cocoa beans. 

“In 2000, a report by the US State Department concluded that in recent years approximately 15,000 children aged 9 to 12 have been sold into forced labor on cotton, coffee and cocoa plantations in the north of the country. A June 15, 2001 document (PDF 850kb) released by the Geneva, Switzerland-based International Labor Organization (ILO) reported that trafficking in children is widespread in West Africa. (For ILO definitions of these labor violations, see ILO Convention 182 on Child Labor ILO Convention 29 on Forced Labor.)” (http://www.globalexchange.org/campaigns/fairtrade/cocoa/background.html)

According to information from ,http://www.globalexchange.org/campaigns/fairtrade/cocoa/facts.html:

  • The International Cocoa Organization, or ICCO, estimates that there are approximately 14 million people directly involved in cocoa production.
  •  Globally, 6.6 billion pounds of cocoa were produced in the 99/00 harvest season.
  • America is the world’s largest chocolate consumer. In 2000, the US imported 729,000 tons of cocoa beans/processed products, ate 3.3 billion pounds of chocolate and spent $13 billion on it.
  • According to the European Fair Trade Association, farmers get barely 5 percent of the profit from chocolate, whereas trading organizations and the chocolate industry receive about 70 percent. This means that producers get only 5 cents from every dollar spent on chocolate, while the companies get 70 cents – 14 times more!
  • A 1998 report from UNICEF stated that some Ivory Coast farmers use child slaves, many from poor neighboring countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo.
  • The US State Department’s year 2000 Human Rights Report acknowledged that some 15,000 children between the ages of 9 and 12 have been sold into forced labor on cotton, coffee and cocoa plantations in northern Ivory Coast in recent years.
  • A June 15, 2001 document released by the Geneva, Switzerland-based International Labor Organization reported that trafficking in children is widespread in West Africa. 
  • West African economies are critically dependent on cocoa. Cocoa revenues account for more than 33% of Ghana’s total export earnings and 40% of the Ivory Coast’s total export earnings.

So you I have given you a lot of information regarding child labor trafficking and you may be asking yourself, what does this have to do with sex abuse?  Well, it actually has a lot to do with it.  According to Global Exchanges website, “Children who are involved in the worst labor abuses come from countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, and Togo — nations that are even more destitute than the impoverished Ivory Coast. Parents in these countries sell their children to traffickers believing that they will find honest work once they arrive in Ivory Coast and then send their earnings home. But as soon as they are separated from their families, the young boys are made to work for little or nothing. The children work long and hard — they head into the fields at 6:00 in the morning and often do not finish until 6:30 at night.” 

Consequently, this children become prime candidates and targets for sexual abuse and rape.  According to ECPAT International’s website,   “‘trafficking in Children is a growing problem in all parts of the world. Children are trafficked from and to almost all regions. The situational analysis of this problem focuses on some of the regions where trafficking in children is more serious than others. Information in this article is taken from Looking Back, Thinking Forward 1999-2000, the recent report on the implementation of the Stockholm Agenda for Action undertaken by ECPAT International.

West Africa
The trafficking of children for both sexual purposes and for cheap child labour is widespread in West Africa.  Nigerian children are also trafficked to other countries in the region such as Gabon, Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Equatorial Guinea. It is unclear whether they are trafficked for sexual purposes or cheap labour. Nigeria is also a receiver country. Children are sent from Benin and Burkina Faso to Nigeria where they are forced to work as domestics. Some are exposed to sexual abuse and some find themselves in the commercial sex industry.

There have also been reports on the trafficking of children for sexual purposes from Guinea, Mali, Benin and Senegal. The trafficking of children from Guinea and Mali into neighbouring countries for either sexual purposes or cheap labour has reportedly become an increasing problem.” http://web.archive.org/web/20080415193821/http:/www.ecpat.net/eng/Ecpat_inter/IRC/articles.asp?articleID=40&NewsID=12  The fact that there is not a lot of research makes it hard to track just how many children are being trafficked and for what purpose.  Many countries do not have effective and unified accountability measures to address the problem of trafficking. 

My purpose in address this is to inform.  Most people don’t think twice about where their chocolate comes from or how it gets to them.  My purpose is to get you to consider the broader picture and the possible victimization of a vulnerable population.  So the next time you bite into your favorite chocolate bar…think twice about where it comes from and the price someone else paid for you to enjoy it!

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by to be fearless and Carol Olson, RCASA. RCASA said: RCASA Sunday with Case Management: Chocolate and Child Trafficking: Happy Valentines Day? http://wp.me/pAwr3-G5 […]

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