Kelly Mills, Intern, International Labor Rights Forum
As Valentine’s Day draws near, many people will consider buying chocolate gifts for their loved ones. Unfortunately, many of those chocolate treats have been tainted by forced, trafficked, or child labor. Today, National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, ILRF and our campaign partners launched new cocoa campaign actions that allow consumers to tell the Hershey Company that we do not want our Valentine's Day gifts to come at the expense of worker rights globally.
Many cocoa farms, especially in West Africa, use forced and trafficked child labor and major chocolate companies source much of their cocoa from these farms. Some chocolate companies have made efforts to end this injustice by providing products that are certified to meet certain labor standards. However, in a recent report published by ILRF and our campaign partners, the Hershey Company was exposed as lagging behind its competitors in committing to respect international labor rights. The report concludes that Hershey should shift to Fair Trade Certification which would provide greater transparency in the company’s supply chains and help provide a better income and stronger protection for worker rights.
This Valentine’s Day, you can tell Hershey that you do not want your chocolate to come at the expense of worker rights by sending CEO David J. West a Valentine or by hosting a screening of The Dark Side of Chocolate. Watch a trailer here of this powerful documentary which exposes the continued exploitation of trafficked child labor in the cocoa industry. You can order a copy of the powerful documentary and download a screening kit here. ILRF and our campaign allies are especially encouraging supporters to host screenings of the film as part of a national week of action leading up to Valentine's Day from February 4-14, 2011.