(Part of The Darkness Visible series)
As Halloween passes and Christmas approaches it is hardly inappropriate that we start asking where the resources come from that end up in our children's trick-or-treat buckets. For it will not be to long before the same resources end up in their stockings and once again on the store shelves. Then comes Valentines Day and Easter. The resources for all this candy has to come from somewhere. It has to be put on the shelves. And it has to be supplied for the ever expanding appetite for chocolate amongst the developed world.
For corporations such as Nestle and Hersey's Chocolate the supply continues to flow out of countries such as Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast). It is in these countries that slave labor and child labor are used interchangeably. The most innocent of lives are ruined by ruthless plantation owners who maximize profits for the corporate giants while selling human beings. The trafficking of humans in these countries is dependent upon the flow of cocoa.
As your children chow down on their Reese Cups and Kit Kat bars there are children around the world working for little to no pay. They are owned by masters that will use them in the fields... in the factories... and at times, in brothels. These children will never grow up in a world where you go to school, graduate, go to college, and then off to a career of your choosing. These children will be bought and sold till they are too old to work for free. They are the children that make it possible for your child to eat his next M&M.
There is no certain figure available to give when it comes to just how many children are enslaved in the Ivory Coast. Large companies like Hersey's have gone out of their way to block legislation in Western governments that would help identify the scale of the problem. These companies have also gone out of their way to block organizations from carrying out independent studies on child labor in West Africa. The irony is that companies like these make their profits from the gluttony of children in the Western world.
This desire on the part of corporations to secure the resources of underdeveloped countries like the Ivory Coast has allowed the continued trafficking of children onto battle fields as far away as the Sudan. These children are brought to the coastal cities where they are sold off for the highest offer. Others are kidnapped from villages and refugee camps around the country. But all child soldiers are doomed to suffer the same fate... death on the front line as their grownup commanders hide behind them.
Young girls from all over the Ivory Coast are taken as sex slaves and sold to masters from all around the globe. Pedophiles from Western countries often end up in the Ivory Coast where they are sold sex slaves or visit brothels in the cities. Many of these sex slaves will end up in other countries... and yes, many will end up in Europe and America.
In essence, the leaders of the Ivory Coast are exporting the most valuable resource their nation has to offer... its children. Those who remain in the country are often forced to work as slaves or "domestic servants" in the fields and factories. Their little hands produce cocoa, cotton, and coffee for the rest of the world. Their lives are made miserable by the lust the developed world has for the cheap goods and seemingly free labor the third world's children have to offer. Their stomachs go empty more often then not so that your child's can be coated with the fruits of their labor.