For the United States, Canada, Britain, and Ireland, today is a holiday dedicated to fun by popularizing classic horror icons for candy collection, vandalizing, or partying. Originally created back in the 1500s, Halloween has since gone through many incarnations and interpretations resulting in a many incidents, some of an unsavory nature. Despite its checkered history, Halloween is still very popular, especially among children.
The Inquisitr reported recently on the latest on the annual holiday over the course of this month. Some people decorated their homes for Halloween this year such as the amazing display of 12,000 lights to some that are downright offensive. Even some businesses are getting in on the Halloween craze including fast food restaurants like Arby's. And for all of you Harry Potter fans, J.K. Rowling is releasing a brand new story today straight from Hogwarts.
Unfortunately, the negative parts of Halloween from the past have been replaced with those of the present, and this time, it is associated with Halloween chocolate! This is a saddening truth because many people love to indulge their sweet tooth with the treat, but after finding out about this news, chocolate may leave a bitter taste in their mouth this Halloween. Why? There are reports detailing that Halloween chocolate is associated with slave labor. What's worse, it is the kind of slave labor that uses children!
According to RYOT, in which they utilized an investigative report by BBC News, it was discovered that thousands of children have been trafficked into working on cocoa farms. Either they come from being purchased from their impoverished parents or kidnapped, they end up enslaved in countries like Mali, Burkina Faso, and Togo. The majority of the 800,000 cocoa farm child slaves are aged between 11 and 16, and are forced to endure incredible hardship labor that lasts 80 to 100 hours every single week. Slavery part aside, almost all cocoa farm workers don't even know why they are harvesting cocoa beans because they never even tasted chocolate before.
What is even worse is the fact these child slaves are malnourished, uneducated, and paid absolutely nothing. Add on to the fact that they are regularly beaten and will never likely see their loved ones again makes it all the worse. Aly Daibate, a former child slave, explained one of his experiences to reporters.
"The beatings were a part of my life. Anytime they loaded you with bags [of cocoa beans] and you fell while carrying them, nobody helped you. Instead, they beat you and beat you until you picked it up again."
The chocolate industry itself is reported to be $110 billion a year, with 70 percent of the world's chocolate coming from Ghana and the Ivory Coast. The profit alone is why many of these West African countries try to hide the corruption and use of child slaves on cocoa farms. In 2010, for example, Ivorian government authorities detained several journalists after they published an article about the situation. Allegedly, the Ivorian First Lady's entourage kidnapped and killed another journalist back in 2004.
It should be reported that child slavery in general is a black plague demoralizing our world and it isn't just exclusive to cocoa farms. Walmart and Costco at one time bought shrimp from companies that used child labor, though they did not know it until later on. In the Middle East, thousands of Yazidi women, especially those younger than 18, are captured and sold by the Islamic State as sex slaves. Summarized, this problem isn't localized to a singular country, but a worldwide epidemic.
Fortunately, not all chocolate is made from companies that use children as slaves. The best way to counter this atrocity is to buy chocolate from companies that use ethical means. Most good companies have their chocolate labeled in association with Fair Trade, Equal Exchange, Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance to make consumers aware. To make it easier for consumers, Food Empowerment Project compiled a list of chocolates that come from slavery-free companies as well as those who are questionable. And if you want to learn more, The Dark Side of Chocolate is an excellent resource website with plenty of information.
Now that you know that certain chocolates are associated with child slave labor, what are your views on the situation? For those who celebrate Halloween, did this report ruin your taste for chocolate or educate you to find chocolates that are ethically kosher?
[Image via Bing]