Close to half of the worlds chocolate is made from the highly prized top-quality cocoa beans that are grown on farms in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, a small nation on the western side of Africa. The farmers of these poor nations are notorious, however, for sometimes relying on slaves to harvest their beans, The slaves are boys between 12 and 16 sometimes as young as 9 ~ who are kidnapped from villages in surrounding nations and sold to the cocoa farmers, who use whippings, beatings, and starvation to force the boys to do the hot, difficult work of clearing the fields, harvesting the beans, and drying them in the sun. The boys work from sunrise to sunset and are locked in at night in windowless rooms where they sleep on bare wooden planks. Far from home, unsure of their location, unable to speak the language, isolated in rural areas, and threatened with harsh beatings if they try to get a way, rarely attempt to escape their nightmare situation. Those who do try are usually caught, severally beaten as an example others, and then locked in solitary confinement for a prolonged period of time. Every year an unknown number of boys die or are killed on the cocoa farms of the Ivory Coast and Ghana.
The plight of the enslaved children was publicized around the world in September 2000 when True Vision, a British television company, took videos of slave boys on several Coast farms and broadcast a documentary in Britain and the United States. An earlier l998 report of the United Nations Children’s Fund had concluded that many ivory Coast farmers used slaves, and the U.S. State Department, in its Year 2000 Human Rights Report, estimated that in recent years over l5,000 children from the neighboring nations of Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Togo had been sold into slavery in the ivory Coast. Alinight-Ridder newspaper investigation published on Tune 24,2001 called additional attention to the use of the slave boys on Ivory Coast cocoa farms and largely corroborated conditions on...
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