The police had to arrest most of the children selling the Redlight Market
The purpose of the action was to prevail upon their foster parents to send them to school.
The Concerned Youth of Liberia (CYL), the mastermind behind the police action, said more than 10 of the children arrested were between 10 and 14 years old. They were arrested with their goods allegedly given them by their foster parents.
According to CYL chairman, Mr. Lame L. Massaley, the children were arrested in the morning hours yesterday when they were supposed to be in school.
The children were arrested for the act of child labor, he said.
“Our organization has been involved in taking children off the streets and in cases of child labor, child trafficking, and child exploitation since 2006.
“Children that are involved in these cases are … brought from the interior by relatives and friends of their biological parents with the intent of sending them to school. On the contrary, however, they are being used as domestic slaves, domestic laborers, or bread winners for their adopted families.”
There is a need for eliminating child labor in Pakistan. Child labor and child trafficking negatively affect human capital development and the overall national development agenda. When children do not go to school they are denied the knowledge and skills needed for national development. Educating children, rather than forcing them to work, could yield enormous economic benefits for developing nations, through increased productivity and human capital. Benefits of education however large, may not be enough to convince poverty struck families to stop sending children to work as the concern over household survival outweighs that of children’s future earnings, therefore this is the problem that Pakistan faces today.
Child labor in Pakistan is perhaps most rampant in a north-western province called Sialkot, near the border with Kashmir, which is an important production centre for exports goods such as sporting goods. Thousands of Pakistani children, many under the age of 10, get less than 10p an hour stitching soccer balls for export around the world. About three-quarters of all the high-quality footballs used in international competitions are made here where child labour is perhaps the most rampant (In 1994, it pumped the equivalent of $385 million into the Pakistan economy).
For the past six years, our family has been involved in supporting the effort to eradicate child slave trafficking in Ghana, Africa. The fishing industry in the Lake Volta region in Ghana is notorious for using child slaves as young as age four. These children dive into murky water to untangle fishing nets, paddle boats, empty buckets of water from the bottom of the boats, do domestic work and more. In addition, the children sleep on mud floors, receive no medical care, are severely underfed, and are forced to do such physically demanding labor that it distorts their growing bodies by causing microfractures. It is truly heartbreaking.
The global cocoa industry often traffics children to work as slaves. According toUNICEF, in West Africa 200,000 children are living in conditions of forced labor and slavery on cocoa farms. One company that has been under heavy pressure to remove child labor from their supply chains is U.S. chocolate leader Hershey; however, the years of pressure by consumers and the media, not to mention the industry itself, have largely passed with little impact. The Hershey Company has been aware that their products are tainted by slavery and child labor since at least 2001, when along with the other major chocolate companies, Hershey made a commitment to end child and forced labor in their cocoa supply chains. In September 2001, chocolate and cocoa industry representatives signed the Harkin Engel Protocol, developed by Senator Tom Harkin and Representative Eliot Engel, in an effort to eliminate child labor in the industry. The protocol has a six-point approach to solve the problem, including a time sensitive process to establish credibility and eliminate the use of child slavery. The protocol was signed by the industry’s large cocoa producing companies and set forth an action plan to eliminate the worst forms of child labor and forced labor from cocoa farms worldwide by 2005.
However, Hershey’s has continued to produce their products undaunted by the knowledge that their profits come with a high human cost. They continue to source cocoa from the Ivory Coast, which according to the International Labor Organization (ILO), produces 43% of the worlds cocoa, without ensuring that child labor exploitation does not occur in the production of the cocoa they use. However, it seems that 2012 is the year Hershey will finally opened their eyes and fall to pressure, mostly thanks to the International Labor Rights Forum and the public campaign “Raise The Bar“, aimed directly at the company’s failure to act. The ILRF contacted Hershey to let them know of their plans to air an ad about Hershey’s child labor issues on a jumbo-tron at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the Super Bowl. Suddenly Hershey’s was ready to speak up and issued a statement that, by the end of 2012, they pledged to use onlyRainforest Alliance certified cocoa for its Bliss chocolate line. Rainforest Alliance Certified farms have three pillars of sustainability: environmental protection, social equity and economic viability. Hershey’s also stated they they plan to invest $10 million in West Africa, to encourage economic initiatives and to reduce child labor and improve cocoa supply (Huffington Post). While this is great news, it is not yet time to celebrate, as it is a small step in the long road to freedom for millions of children victimized by child labor.
In Creole, “restavèk” means “stay with”—a seemingly benign name for a child from a poor family who stays with wealthier families or relatives.
The long-rooted tradition in Haiti of the restavèk is meant to help children who could not otherwise afford school and other services obtain them in exchange for small services for their host families, who bear the expense.
“The practice originally involved the transfer of the child from one family to another. However, the restavèk system is more accurately characterized as trafficking and now often involves middlemen recruiters, or koutchye, who are paid to find a restavèk for host families,” says a report by Restavèk Freedom.
Children are supposed to be cared for as members of the family. Some do live like brother and sister with their host families’ children—like daughter or son with the parents. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Children can instead be forced into domestic servitude, suffering abuse from their host families. The schooling, health care and other services promised never materialize for some of Haiti’s estimated 225,000 restavèk children.
Some of these youth may even feel the sting of a cowhide whip, called the rigwaz, a relic from Haiti’s years as a slave colony still used to beat some restavèks, Reuters reported in 2010.
There would be two more trips last year totaling almost four weeks in September, October and November. In my reporting, I found even Burkinabe cotton produced under purportedly ethical conditions was supported by forced child labor. We also obtained a copy of an unpublished 2008 study co-sponsored by the national growers union, which runs the organic and fair-trade program in the country. The report showed there were potentially vulnerable foster children on cotton farms across the country that were certified as fair trade. We started visiting farms.Along the way, we found a girl who called herself Clarisse Kambire in the small village of Benvar. Briefly a promising student at the local school, she had the muscular hands of a field laborer by the time I met her. I also met other foster children like her who were forced to work on the plot next to hers. Fewer than 20 farmers participated in the organic and fair-trade program in the village. Those growers were open about the work children performed, precisely because they didn’t know they were doing anything wrong — a consequence of the lack of training the program was supposed to provide.
So infuriated by those who responded that they wouldn’t stop buying chocolate even if they knew it was made by child/forced labor. If there are companies that don’t use child labor, why not support those?
The next time you crunch into a Kit-Kat or Hersheys chocolate bar, or eat a birthday cake topped with chocolate frosting, consider this: a young, uneducated, unpaid, malnourished West African child has likely cut open the cacao fruits that held the cocoa seeds of the chocolate which you are now eating. This child is working in Ghana or the Ivory Coast (combined, the two countries provide 60% of global cocoa) and has been trafficked from Burkina Faso.
CNN: CNN correspondent David McKenzie traveled into the heart of the Ivory Coast to investigate children working in the cocoa fields. His documentary “Chocolate’s Child Slaves, premiers Friday January 20, 9 CET on CNN International. David is answering your questions from the comments section here:
Bloom Angel asks: “There are so many kids in this condition and we cant do anything, where is government?”
David McKenzie: Hi Bloom. I think there is always something you can do. Every change starts with a single person. If you want to do something about it, then contact chocolate companies, or lawmakers, or just continue the discussion with your friends. Most activists I have spoken to – and what I have learnt from our reporting – lead me to believe that the government of Ivory Coast hasn’t done nearly enough to fix this issue. Politics and recent history does play into it. Since 2002, the government in Ivory Coast (or Cote d’Ivoire in French) has been crippled by a series of political crises. But consider this, in 2011, one of the more violent years in the country’s recent past, cocoa production was up by 25 percent. If they can get cocoa to market, then they can get people into the farms to spread the message. The new government has pledged to reform the cocoa industry, but it wouldn’t be the first time this has been promised.
Pradeepa Jeeva asks: “Which companies in America use this chocolate for their products?”
David McKenzie: That’s a great question Pradeepa. And the answer is interesting and complex. All the major companies globally source cocoa from West Africa. So pretty much any famous brand you can think of uses cocoa from Ivory Coast. Very few chocolate companies can trace where exactly their cocoa comes from and whether child slavery has been used in its production. As an example, Nestle told CNN that they can only trace 20 percent of their cocoa supply (that is why they have sent a team to investigate their supply chain). Only a few Fair Trade chocolate brands can confidently say that no trafficked children are used on their farms.