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Child labour, slavery and the darkness behind the dark chocolate industry

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Chocolates, despite their deliciousness, are often avoided by many people due to health reasons, as they are generally quite high in sugar content and can be detrimental to health in many ways. However, dark chocolates are often immune to these problems, which are generally associated with typical chocolates.

Dark chocolate contains many different types of antioxidants. They are known to help reduce the risk of heart attacks and protect one's skin from the sun; they also improve the brain's functionality, which is why they are often suggested to students before exams.

However, dark chocolates have a dark side that chocolate connoisseurs often overlook. 

West African nations, mostly Ivory Coast and Ghana, are responsible for 70 per cent of cocoa production in the world. These nations have quite a questionable record when it comes to human rights. Child labour is an issue plaguing Africa and the cocoa industry in particular, with about 2.1 million children involved in the cocoa industries of these two countries.

According to a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), about 10 per cent of children from Ghana and 40 per cent of children from Ivory Coast do not attend school, and a considerable percentage of these children are involved in the cocoa industry, which facilitates the much-loved as well as healthy dark chocolate industry. 

The child labour involved in the cocoa industry of these countries is often confined to these countries and the neighbouring countries, for example, Burkina Faso, Togo, Nigeria, etc. These children are smuggled from these countries to Ghana and the Ivory Coast, where they are sold for a small amount of money to the firm owners of cocoa in these countries. Children in the age range of 9–16 predominate in this barbaric and inhumane practice.

The owners exploit these children in the worst possible way in those firms, who often see them as a cheap and disposable source of labour. They do not even get adequate food or housing facilities and are often crammed together in a small space. Every child has to carry loads of 60–65 kg in the process, which is not only near-impossible for children of this age but also extremely difficult.

Although many cocoa firms have signed treaties about the treatment of these children, these treaties have never been implemented, and most of the things in these treaties have never seen the light. 

These firms wield a lot of power and influence in those countries and often resort to violence to stop internal issues from spreading. 

Although the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) has been working relentlessly to stop child labour, whether the fate of these children will change or not is something that nobody knows. Like other industries where consumers show awareness regarding the production process and human rights, this industry should also come to light and be discussed more.

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