January 17th, 2012
02:51 PM ET

How to help: Slavery in the supply chain

In "Chocolate's Child Slaves," CNN's David McKenzie travels into the heart of the Ivory Coast to investigate what's happening to children working in the cocoa fields. (More information and air times on CNN International.)

It's easy to say that human trafficking is a violation against basic human rights and that it should be abolished. And we often assume that modern-day slavery only takes place in countries far away.

But chances are, you have purchased, eaten, or have worn something tainted by slavery sometime in your life. Curious about what some of those connections might be? Calculate what some groups call your "slavery footprint"  or check out Anti-Slavery International's interactive map  of products, which includes something many of us love: chocolate.

Ten years ago, the world's biggest chocolate companies promised to get rid of child trafficking in the cocoa industry in West Africa, who produces much of the world's cocoa. But aid groups claim little has been done to end the worst forms of child abuse. (Check out more about the issue)

So, how can you prepare yourself as a consumer before you bite into that chocolate bar or sip some hot cocoa? Here are a few ways.

Organizations like the 10 Campaign offer some ideas for taking action, such as signing an online petition against trafficked-linked chocolate, sending a 10th birthday card to the Cocoa Protocol or writing a letter to you local member of Parliament, senator, representative or other government official.

If you're the type of consumer who likes to vote with your wallet, you can download the Fair Trade Finder app, here.  The app for iPhone and Android shows you where to find your favorite Fair Trade Certified products.

Looking for more ways to help fight modern-day slavery? Check out the CNN Freedom Project's How to Help section


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soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. chuks eva

    21 Century Slaves

    January 18, 2012 at 7:43 am | Reply
    • German

      to everybody that took the time to nmcoemt or favorite this, I really do appreciate it. I've only been at this for a month or so, learning as i go. might as well do something with all this crap! Oops, I meant "collectibles". that was the bourbon talking.

      March 4, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Reply
      • Parminder

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        April 7, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  2. chuks eva

    21 Century Madness

    January 18, 2012 at 7:50 am | Reply
  3. portland tony

    Ok, suppose we all buy in to the CNN and the non chocolate slave NGO's philosophy and stop consuming chocolate. How does this improve the lives of the young indentured children? What is CNN's plan B for the freed slaves? Oh, and by boycotting chocolate, what damage will this cause to the economies of these poorer countries and the rest of their population?

    January 18, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Reply
    • Rainysaint

      Dude, you're right! It'd be so much easier to believe we can do nothing. Awesome! Then we can feel good about doing nothing!
      Sweet!

      January 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Reply
    • Chonburi Sam

      Those are some good questions, but the answer still isn't slavery.

      January 19, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Reply
      • marie

        right, we don't have to believe that there is just this absolute dichotomy of child slavery vs. no chocolate at all – those are the only two choices. That's not the reality.

        January 20, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
      • antieverything

        It's all the same question. The slavery certainly should be ended, but failure to have some kind of plan for to do with these children will just open them up to some other form of exploitation. I'm sure the Islamic Extremists would love to take these children in.

        January 23, 2012 at 8:11 am |
      • Elaine Kilshaw

        We must make a start somewhere and bring it to the fore and to start doing something for these poorchildren. We must get at the UN everyday. Just because they may end up worse off is no reason to stop trying and getting thousands of signatures so the UN has to do something about it. Surely all the billionaires about could do something positive. It must start somewhere

        January 23, 2012 at 9:12 am |
      • Coucou

        The answer is: help us poor make less children. The more we breed, the worse our poverty gets, and the more desperate we become to the point of accepting any condition to survive just for the day, including lifetime slavery.
        Having been one of those children, I ask anyone to first think of better alternatives before stopping that chocolate production chain.

        March 20, 2013 at 5:50 am |
    • Rodney North

      The people most involved in fighting forced child labor in the cocoa/chocolate are NOT recommending a boycott for the very reason you gave.

      Rather we are recommending that people buy chocolate from the brands that are taking action. Those sourcing Fair Trade cocoa & sugar are the best examples. I should know as I work for one of them – Equal Exchange.

      Here in the States you've a number of Fair Trade choices, including: Equal Exchange, Divine, Sweet Earth Organics & others.
      In Canada you can buy Camino brand chocolates and cocoa.

      But besides buying Fair Trade chocolates you can do much more – ask your retailers to stock more Fair Trade products.
      Write to the companies, like Hershey's, who are dragging their feet.
      Write to your legislators, and support Executive Order 13126 (see http://slavefreechocolate.org/executive-order-13126-valentines-day-campaign/)
      Check out the International Labor Rights Forum – they do great work and have a host of actions for concerned citizens. See http://www.laborrights.org/child-and-forced-labor

      Rodney North
      co-op member/Spokesperson
      http://www.EqualExchange.coop

      January 21, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Reply
      • SusanN

        Thank you for the info. Googling these brands right now.

        January 21, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
      • godsangel1

        thanks for the input- i like chocolate but not at the expense of child labor

        January 22, 2012 at 7:11 am |
      • William

        Mr North: The CNN story emphatically stated that the farms are remote and according to a Tulane report that 97% of the farms have not been investigated. How do you KNOW that your chocolate is fair trade or slave free. It would stand to reason if these fields in Africa are so remote, then certifying your products as Fair Trade and Slave Free is far reaching.

        The bottom line is "the West" can, and should do nothing to promote Africa. If we were to go in and build decent housing people and warmongers would only flock to them causing more various problems. Pay them a decent wage they'll be conned, robbed, or banks would cheat them. It will ALWAYS be something wrong with Africa. The only thing we can do to benefit this situation is bring more jobs home (to Europe or the Americas) and convince people that their labor isn't worth as much as they perceive themselves to be worth. We should encourage our politicians to toughen regulations and even the playing field with China as an example. If China is deal weapons that are used by warmongers to enslave others then it would seem our (US) laws would prevent dealing with such nations. Not buying chocolate isn't going to do a thing except put smaller chocolatiers out of business and jobs will be lost. That candy bar junk is rubbish and should be avoided whether it causes calcium deficiency or not....besides its not what it used to be.

        January 27, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  4. Virginia Joe

    In response to Tony, the only reason immoral business practices continue to prosper is because people like you find excuses to allow them to continue. If the majority of the chocolate consumers publicly boycotted chocolate this week the entire industry would change thier way of doing business overnight, after all according to that great economist Milton Friedman the only true purpose of Social Responsibility for a corporation is profit (within the law), workers rights and a living wage and government regulations to enforce morality and socially acceptable behavoir reeks of that dreaded affair called "Socialism". (now where is that sarcasm font button somebody referred to on another cnn comment section) You don't have to give up chocolate forever just long enough to demonstrate that you will not tolerate Corporate America abusing the children of poor countries to make an extra buck for thier shareholders (thank you Milton). We ended Government sanctioned slavery in the U.S. in the 1860's and I'm pretty sure the ability to purchase cotton clothing didn't come to an abrupt halt with 3/4's of the southern population starving to death. There is no justification for slavery anywhere on this planet PERIOD! If your rediculous argument had merit it would be worthy of a response; maybe you can send it to the Chocalate companies to use on thier long list of excuses as to why they continue to use child slave labor for a commodity that has never had any trouble being sold to a consumer. If you are 10 years old Portland Tony I apologize for your ignorant comment and realize you will grow up one day but if you believe you are a knowledgeable adult then you may want to become a little more informed about acceptable and unacceptable labor practices on this planet.

    January 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Reply
    • NSfromIndiana

      Wow... Great response! I couldn't have said it better myself!

      January 19, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Reply
    • Chonburi Sam

      Thanks Joe, well said.

      January 19, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Reply
    • karen lane

      I agree with u, but doubt if many people really care enough to do this, I would never eat chocolate again if it helps, but not a lot of people would agree with this.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:56 am | Reply
  5. Virginia Joe

    Heres a crazy thought, if you have access to a printer and some sheets of small labels make labels that say "This chocolate was picked with child slave labor" and sneak a few (or many) labels on the underside of candy bars of the major offenders in stores. An interesting way to get the word out to the uninformed American public. Little Johhny says," Mom what's child slave labor?"

    January 19, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Reply
    • Thais

      In players ctaere a character and adventure through the , missions, blowing things up and , bullets, to name but a few things. Generally , if you've seen it in a matrix film chances are you can do it in the game. This is excellent news for the vast mob of people who have always wanted to experience the matrix and do their part in helping the people of Zion. Or even for those people who were secretly sympathetic to the Machines, or those who found the Merovingian charming and were secretly rooting for his Exiles throughout the film.

      April 14, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Reply
  6. William R. Cousert

    Simple solution – pass a law that prohibits the import of any merchandise that was created with slave labor.

    January 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Reply
    • Chonburi Sam

      If they can implement this for blood diamonds, they can do it too for slave chocolates.

      January 19, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Reply
    • Rodney North

      Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the big chocolate brands have been fighting such legislation tooth & nail for 10 years.

      I suggest people write to your legislators, and support Executive Order 13126 (see http://slavefreechocolate.org/executive-order-13126-valentines-day-campaign/)

      And check out the International Labor Rights Forum – they do great work and have a host of actions for concerned citizens. See http://www.laborrights.org/child-and-forced-labor

      Rodney North
      http://www.EqualExchange.coop

      January 21, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Reply
    • Amal

      Я из Эстонии, очень понравилось пара фраз из поста блога моего начальника:Please do something to stop the evil devil Russia. This cotruny, power in this cotruny has done most bad in the whole world all through the history. Most bad to their own people, most to the other nations. Why nobody stops Russia!И это слова взрослого человека, наглядный пример что твориться в головах, промыленных местными и зарубежными медиа источниками.

      April 8, 2012 at 3:33 am | Reply
  7. Mercyme

    Why can't the FDA ban these products in the USA like ivory is banned from import to the USA?

    January 19, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Reply
    • Ryo

      People cannot live uhitowt Nature, but nature can live uhitowt us. we need to take action before everything was to late. Do not wait until the nature said you are not belong to thin planet.

      April 7, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Reply
  8. davinia

    Thank you for informing me. I don't particularly eat chocolate, but I would like to know the companies that use this type of labor, so they can be confronted, and if there is no transformation of their policies, then boycotted until they change their practices.

    January 19, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Reply
  9. nizaye

    Its a scary thought to suggest that we stop importing products that are made under any form of slavery. We would have very few choices at the shelf. I don't think its the governments responsability to make the right choices for us. Its good to have choices, our choices define who we are. Are you a slave sponsor? Is this what you want to be? Its all on us, we are the market, we have the money. Choose wisely.

    January 20, 2012 at 11:32 am | Reply
  10. nancy katam

    thank you for the eye opener on how other children in the world are going through. My five year old doughter is following the programe every friday, and she wishes to contribute on how to help child in Napal and Ivory coast. Please advice.Thank you

    January 20, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Reply
  11. Merima Mitrovic

    Us consuming chocolate or not will not change the present of those kids. And it won't matter if they mark all the chocolates in the world, cause those kids do not even know what the cocoa they harvest is for, nor where it is being shipped off cause they do not know that there is a whole other big world behind the cocoa trees. Since all of these are solid facts they will never read the packages or the warnings of the big manufacturers of chcolate. They will not know that they alledgely care for them. Those kids are illiterate and do not know their geography, for they do not go to school, remember?! So the world should help them in a much serious way.

    January 20, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Reply
  12. lessy

    the chocolate industry is booming so everyone involved in the success should be well rewarded. Forcing children to work in the cocoa farms should NEVER be allowed and tough action should be taken on those who try it. Most of the children said, they are there beacuse they see it as a means of survival. Whats unfair and painfull is the fact that part of the big profit the choclate industry is making comes from paying their workers at the groung level peanuts and even taking advantage of children who are trying to survive. I am for better working conditions for the Farmers in west africa, good salaries.The children should not work more than 5hrs per day on the farms so that they have extra hours to go to school and time to go over their notes.Which means the chocolate industry should build enough schools near the farms and fund them so that these Children who have to work on the farms are not doomed to those farms all their lives but get the right to education and a better future like every other child. Lunch should be served to those children at the schools since they are comming from hard work in the farms and its not easy staying in class on an empty stomach.We might not be able to take every child out of poverty but yes we will protect them from those who want to use them as doormats to their success.Those countrys government are to blame too because they should protect the rights of every of their citizen

    January 20, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Reply
  13. lessy

    thanks to CNN for bringing this to the light

    January 20, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Reply
  14. itala

    List chocolayes that are fair traded

    January 20, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Reply
  15. Chinedum

    Good initiative but what plan do we have in place to improve the lot of these children and also help farms wit an alternative means of labour else we creat more issues for the society with the children doing nothing; concerned bodies must first embark on a mass enlightent campaign targeting youths and parents who must understand the essence of the desired change; we also need to consider the fact that the practice is an age long one and so cannot be stopped abruptly but throug phased campaigns involving the disadvantaged target, knowing a percentage of this isnt outright forced labour but due to the poverty level you have children lending help to struggling parents who work times as hard to make ends meet and even send them to school so for this set of people its more harm if no plan is in place for an immediate help

    January 20, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Reply
  16. Merima Mitrovic

    The problem is that those very few kids who think they are helping their parents by working on those farms, are not realy helping, because the farm owners do not pay them for the work they finish. Most of the farm owners barely provide food and shelter for the workers, thats what among other things makes it slavery of modern age. And not only that the kids don't get payed, but they are neglected every possible way. But, the bottom line is that no child should be submited to hard labour no matter what the reasons!

    January 20, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Reply
    • Ebbo

      Here is another math trick This will work only with 7 digit Phone No. 1. Grab a uolcclatar. (You wont be able to do this in your head)2. Key in the first three digits of your phone number (NOT the area code)3. Mutiply by 804. Add 15. Mutiply by 2506. Add the last four numbers of your phone number7. Add the last four numbers of your phone number again8. Subtract 2509. Divide number by 2 Do you recognize the answer? IS'NT IT YOUR PHONE NO:?

      April 8, 2012 at 5:21 am | Reply
  17. sue

    I wana take them home and show them a much better life !

    January 20, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Reply
  18. silverio

    Silverio
    Your comment is Awaiting moderation.
    This information is amazing, thank God in my mais is all so different, because the owners are almost always cocoa smallholders, smallholders who produce little, but that production allows him to live with dignity, besides a large number are partners in partnerships premises, which are federated in regional blocs called cocoa producer, as well as producing orient themselves better, get the best price and quality improvement. Children of farmers attending the schools, help in the production, and parents pay for basic studies and university with what they get in their small and medium-sized plantations, SO SHOULD BE EVERYWHERE IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC AND COCOA CHOCOLATE IS OBTAINED FROM THE HOPE IS A SWEET FOR FARMERS AND FOR THE COUNTRY, BECAUSE IS A GREAT SOURCE OF GENERATION OF JOBS AND WEALTH.

    January 21, 2012 at 8:41 am | Reply
  19. Wendy

    I am almost 37 and never have conceived. i seriously want to adopt one or two,be a blessing to them give them agood life

    January 21, 2012 at 11:25 am | Reply
  20. Ieva

    I watched the program yesterday. It was talking about the chocolate companies that do (if they do) not enough to stop the slavery. However, this morning applying the hand lotion I thought what about all the cosmetics and other products that use coco butter? Do they participate in reducing child slavery and promoting the fair product?

    January 24, 2012 at 9:32 am | Reply
  21. danielvdv

    10% cocoa powder is use in SIGARETS so smoke more sigarets
    A lot of cocapowder is use in BEER so drink more beer
    A lot of cocoabutter is use in cosmetic so use more cosmetics and medicine.........
    Don't eat chocolate
    CNN ..... learn your lesson before making a programe about chocolate.
    And the firms you invite jou forget a lot of big playeres ( Cargill .......to invite in your programe)

    But child slavery is bad....... prevent it

    January 24, 2012 at 11:37 am | Reply
  22. Texas Tim

    The simplistic answers, comments, and complaints on this page are pure drivel. You people look at these foreign cultures as though all these kids need is a good union and everything will be fixed. On average, people in these 3rd-world nations make less than the average American makes in a week. You think boycotting is the answer, but your silly boycotts won't reach Africa. You think writing congressmen is the answer, but they have zero influence on foreign economies. You all think that the rest of the world can be just like America, if they were all nicer and paid better and worked their people easier, blah, blah, blah. You sit on your golden pedestals, thinking you can see all the world's problems and solutions with these pathetic, pedantic solutions, as though the world was a simple place with easy answers. If that were the case, the world's problems would all have been solved already. Americans are spoiled, pampered and blessed and most just can't see it. You gripe about fair-trade chocolate and most of Africa would just like a roof over their heads and ANYTHING in their stomachs. Meanwhile, you complain about $4 gas and the rising prices of blue jeans and leather products. Count your blessings. If you did that, you'd not have time for this grotesque display of idiocy. You can't fix the kids unless you fix the parents. You can't fix the parents unless you fix the countries' job markets. You can't fix the countries' job markets, because they can't afford to fix their own problems. Never will be able to, when countries like Cameroon and Cote d'Ivoire have GDPs less than Rhode Island. Your grip on the REAL world is truly, truly missing.

    February 9, 2012 at 11:53 am | Reply
    • Elaine Kilshaw

      Why are you so angry. We know we cannot solve the situation in one day but at least we are making our concerns known. The day we keep silent about things that matter we are lost. My hope is that someone out there will listen to our pleas we cannot stop trying not for our sakes but for the expolited..

      February 9, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Reply
  23. flowermissing

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    March 29, 2012 at 10:14 am | Reply
  24. dever.

    suck my pnis

    August 9, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Reply
  25. zuugal

    the secret slavery kingdom in switzerland if the world know that and secret is something ather first in this country where
    I have been lifing last five year, for sure there is terrible immigration system through the country and also non civilized society. to my personality I got marrige with swiss woman and have with her one kid so what I haven seen is the local police department coming to see my apartment weather if I have lifing with her if not they told me they will throw me away the country from my kid and wife, there is the same histroy with some people I use to know kids miss their fathers and lifing alone with the mothers but this histroy is only african fathers germany side of switzerland for more deteils any time you can contekt me to my emeil adress

    June 8, 2013 at 3:31 am | Reply

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