By Mitch Ellmauer, Intern, International Labor Rights Forum
S'mores! They're everybody's favorite summertime snack. In fact, what warm summer night spent around the campfire would be complete without them? This year, however, you should ask yourself where the ingredients for that s'more come from. If that’s a Hershey's bar wedged between your graham crackers and your marshmallow you might want to think again before biting into your s'more. What might be a delicious treat for you may, in fact, be the product of forced, trafficked, or child labor in West Africa.
The Hershey Company, America's largest and oldest chocolate manufacture, likely uses cocoa harvested by child laborers in Cote d'Ivoire. Cote d'Ivoire is the world's largest cocoa exporter. Many children work in hazardous conditions harvesting cocoa, the primary ingredient in chocolate. Additionally, some children are even trafficked from neighboring countries to work on cocoa farms. Malian and Burkinian children, some as young as twelve, wind up on Ivorian plantations through a combination of trickery and desperate poverty. Traffickers, called "locateurs" in Mali, entice families with promises of good wages and education to send their children to work in Cote d'Ivoire. These children may work over 12 hours a day, are underfed, and even subject to beatings and abuse.