ANTI-SLAVERY
SOCIETY

FIGHTING SLAVERY TODAY

Buying chocolates or gems for Mother's Day?

Cocoa is the essential ingredient for making chocolates.  A significant proportion of the world production of cocoa is grown and harvested on plantations by African slaves.

These slaves are on cocoa plantations in remote rural areas in West Africa.  Some of the chocolates and drinking chocolate which we buy is made using slave cocoa.  The slaves are beaten by the overseer.  They are not fed properly.  They work long hours.  They are locked up in a slave barracks at night.  They are beaten and often killed if they try to escape.

The problem for consumers is to know the difference between slave cocoa and free cocoa.  Obviously, no manufacturer labels its product as "Cocoa Grown With Slave Labor".

As a result of a mission by one of the Society's agents to West Africa, the Society is compiling a list of slave cocoa products.

As a rule of thumb, the cocoa purchased by the more expensive chocolate manufacturers tends to be free cocoa.  However, there is an exception.  If the manufacturer experiences an unexpected surge in consumer demand and purchases cocoa on the spot market, there is a significant risk that a proportion of the purchase might have come from plantations in West Africa which grow and harvest cocoa using slaves.

Conversely, as a general rule of thumb, there is a risk that the cheaper chocolates (which are often "No Label" brands and the like) have been manufactured using cocoa purchased on the spot market, a proportion of which may be slave cocoa.

Since the civil war in Côte d'Ivoire (the largest exporter of cocoa with plantations were slaves work), exports from that country have decreased and cocoa prices have increased, so that there has been a decline in the use of slaves on the plantations.

The issue which confronts the Society and its supporters today is similar to that which confronted early abolitionists.  John Woolman refused to use sugar because it had been produced by slave labor (there was only a small amount of sugar produced by free labor imported from British India, and it was of inferior quality).  James and Lucretia Mott supported the Free Produce movement, boycotting candy for the same reason.

The material in this report is based on a Mission to West Africa by the Society's Secretary-General.

Similarly, many diamonds are produced by slaves in Sierra Leone.  Also, many of the cheaper diamonds and gems are cut and polished in India by bonded children.

Would your mother really want a Mother's Day gift which was produced or fabricated using slave or bonded labor?

 

Continued exploitation of children in cocoa industry
April 3
, 2007
Read the
BBC World Service report
 

 


Last Updated April 03, 2007

Links to other pages dealing with this issue:

Current campaigns


Links to other pages dealing with slavery in West Africa:

West African slave trade

Traditional slavery in West Africa


Links to pages dealing with consumer awareness:

Current campaigns

Consumer awareness

Goods made by child labor

Chocolates

Diamonds

Carpets made by child labor

Rugmark

Ethical investment

Get involved!

Fair trade


Links to other pages  dealing with slavery:

Does slavery still exist?

What is slavery?

Child slavery in South Asia

Hierodulic servitude in South Asia

Odalisques

Rescuing slaves

Slavery Convention 1926

y is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. 

SLAVERY SLAVE
TRADE
HUMAN
SACRIFICE

BONDED
LABOR

HIERODULIC
SERVITUDE

TRAFFICKING

CHILD
LABOR

 © 2003 by the Anti-Slavery Society. The text on any page may be reproduced provided that the source is acknowledged.  This does not apply to photos.