Child Labor

Topics: International Labour Organization, International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour, Unemployment Pages: 4 (1082 words) Published: October 20, 2010
Child Labor for Chocolate – the Epidemic

Though the practice of child labor has been abolished for decades in the United States, it continues to thrive in many areas worldwide, including the poverty-stricken countries of West Africa. One of the most prominent producers of cocoa internationally is the Ivory Coast, who produces over a fourth of the world’s cocoa. Although this market is highly profitable for the local farmers, it is detrimental because of the low prices enforced by chocolate companies, thus often results in the employment of children for cheap labor. Africa holds the highest percentage of child labor in the world, where children make up 20% of the work force (Fyfe 1). There are many causes leading to this issue, including the high poverty level existing in developing countries and the outside force of American consumerism. Together, these factors result in the dependency of these poverty-stricken countries on child labor. Ultimately, the choice is left to consumers, companies, and lawmakers to decide whether the desire for a cheap product outweighs the resulting cost of the loss of human rights.

The Ivory Coast struggles with immense poverty, and the need of jobs for the working sector is steadily increasing. Fyfe believes this “growing phenomenon” is currently due to the economic recession and flourishing poverty in developing countries (Fyfe 1). The lingering poverty and the inefficient education system together make the country easily susceptible to the exploitation of its children by American chocolate companies. Fyfe’s general point is that all of these common factors create a very vulnerable child population, but include the current worldwide recession, and the final result is increased numbers of children in the work force. Although this may seem beneficial to the children, their families, companies, and even consumers at the time, it often results in the child later becoming unemployed and returning to poverty as an adult. This...

Cited: Chanthavong, Samlanchith. "Chocolate and Slavery: Child Labor in Cote d 'Ivoire." TED Case Studies. 2002. American University. 8 February 2010 .
"The Chocolate Industry: Poverty Behind the Sweetness." Global Exchange. 10 Nov. 2009. 8 Feb. 2010 .
Fyfe, Alec. Child Labour. Oxford: Polity Press, 1989. 2009. International Labor Rights Forum. 10 Feb. 2010 .
Mendelievich, Elias. Children at Work. Geneva: International Labor Office, 1979.
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