Friday, February 09, 2007

back to grouchy bccy

"members of the global chocolate and cocoa industry signed an accord in late 2001 for the introduction of a certification system by july 2005 that would enable customers to choose chocolate produced without abusive labor practices. but, to the frustration of rights groups, deadlines have been slipping."

truly long-time readers will recall that i used to be really grumpy on this whole child slave labor thing in chocolate. and i have been pretty quiet on the subject for a long while, waiting for the everybody to get their act together on this certification situation.

but i'm getting kinda cranky about it, and if i'm not careful, i just might let off with another old-fashioned full scale rant about it around valentine's day.

"'i cannot deny that there are issues with child labor but it is totally wrong to call it slavery,' said robert zehnder, secretary general of the european cocoa association (eca). 'we work with governments and ngos to address the problem.'"

let's see: traffickers go from the ivory coast to mali, where they visit impoverished rural villagers and offer to take their children and find them "good jobs" from which the children will send money back home to help support the family.

then they take the boys and sell them to cocoa farmers, who beat them, starve them, and sometimes even chain them up at night as the sleep in barns as if they were animals. (the girls are likewise sold as domestic kitchen help; they fare little better, often being sexually abused.)

the parents are said to rarely see any of the promised money. if that's not child slavery, mr. zehnder, what the heck would you call it?

i promise whatever it is isn't legal in pleasant belgium, where mr. zehnder enjoys a charming life pondering the details of the commercial cocoa contract.

this report says 200,000 children are working in "hazardous conditions" in the ivory coast's cocoa industry -- but again, we aren't sure how many are trafficked and/or enslaved -- possibly 12,000.

commodities just suck. the slowness of the no-slavery-in-this-candy certification is getting a little wearing. i know, i know -- dealing with multiple corrupt african governments is hard, hard, hard.

and it's harder to combat an entire african culture in which children generally have zero rights.

so the first certification program is supposed to come out of ghana this year sometime. um, but what about the ivory coast? what about there? why isn't that the first one, it being the major locus of the problem?

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posted by fortune | 7:53 PM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 2 comments

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