This Halloween thousands of children all over the United States will tick-or-treat for goodies made by corporations like Hershey and Nestle. What many of these children and their parents don’t know is that much of the popular candy distributed at Halloween each year was made as the result of unsafe and unethical child labor practices in West African nations like Ghana.
The practice of using cheap child labor in the manufacturing of candy bars is so widespread that a recent report from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture estimated that 284,000 young people currently work in unethical conditions on cocoa farms around the world. Approximately 40% of the world’s cocoa supply comes from the Ivory Coast in West Africa, a country that is currently rampant with child slavery. According to a statistic released by the US State Department, around 109,000 children are currently laboring under unsafe conditions in the Ivory Coast alone. In Ghana, cocoa is a major cash crop, and many Ghanaian children are exposed to potential health hazards while harvesting cocoa beans. In fact, two of the teenage boys in Touch A Life’s care were rescued out of the cocoa fields in Ghana where they were forced to work extremely long hours in unethical conditions. Ultimately, these children were slaves to their masters. So we know, firsthand, the damaging effects of these unethical practices on vulnerable children in West Africa.
As an American consumer you hold the power to effect change this Halloween. By boycotting candy bars made by companies that employ dangerous labor practices and instead supporting fair trade candy and snack companies, you can send a message to corporations that dangerous child labor is not something to be tolerated. And know that just because you choose to boycott the major candy companies, that doesn’t mean that you or your children have to forego the Halloween candy this year! There are a number of options for consumers looking to indulge in trick-or-treating without relying on companies that use child labor, including products like Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups. Halloween candies that do not include chocolate, such as Hot Tamales and Mike & Ikes also remain safe and more ethical alternatives to the classic candy bars.
Make your Halloween festivities a little less scary by choosing to opt out of traditional, convenient candy purchases. By doing so, you’ll take a stand against child labor injustices and human trafficking, proving to candy conglomerates that a child’s life is more valuable than a piece of chocolate.
Image courtesy of halloweenclipart.com