The Bitter Truth… Chocolate & Child Slavery?

(Last Updated On: January 28, 2023)
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In the year 2000, BBC aired SLAVERY… A GLOBAL INVESTIGATION. The filmmakers of SLAVERY brought to light the issue of child labor in the chocolate industry.

In the year 2001, aimed at ending child trafficking and slave labor on cacao plantations… the Chocolate Manufacturers Association formed an action plan entitled The Harkin-Engel Protocol. This is an agreement that was signed by the major chocolate companies almost ten years before the release of the documentary film… THE DARK SIDE OF CHOCOLATE.


People consume three million tons (six billion pounds) of chocolate per year. But, the success of chocolate has a very dark side. While first world adults and children alike are enjoying chocolate’s sweet taste, there’s a horrifying reality that Africa’s children are facing… child trafficking and working as slaves in the chocolate industry.

Cases of slavery in the chocolate industry often involve acts of physical violence (such as whipping for working slowly or trying to escape). Reporters have also documented cases where children were locked in at night to prevent them from escaping. Former enslaved chocolate worker Aly Diabate told reporters, “The beatings were a part of my life. Anytime they loaded you with bags and you fell while carrying them, nobody helped you. Instead, they beat you and beat you until you picked them up again.” Drissa, a freed enslaved worker who had never even tasted chocolate, experienced similar circumstances. When asked what he would tell people who eat chocolate made from slave labor, he replied that they are enjoying something that he suffered to make, adding, “When people eat chocolate, they are eating my flesh.”

Chocolate & Slavery… What’s The Real Deal?

In the year 2001, the lucrative chocolate industry, due to pressure from NGOs, committed itself to putting an end to child labor in cacao plantations before the year 2006. Eighteen years later, has this promise been kept? The Ivory Coast, the world’s largest cacao producer and exporter, seemingly made a real effort to eradicate this scourge on the country. They built schools, and they trained farmers. Television adverts even reminded populations that child labor is illegal. So, why does child exploitation still exist? Farther in isolated areas of the forest, at the end of near-impassable roads… Paul Moreira discovered child slaves, separated from their parents, and forced to work in cacao plantations. And, if all this isn’t horrifying enough… traffickers often seize their incomes.


The chocolate industry’s survival relies on widespread deforestation and grueling child labor. Driving along the Ivory Coast, the filmmaking team encounter armed militias, a badly deteriorated forest reserve, and thousands of illegal cacao plants. In one camp, a group of forty immigrant men and children toil through the brush with machetes. They’re engaging in a process that’s both back breaking and risky. Amidst the tireless efforts of human rights and environmental activists, and the empty promises of industry leaders… the most urgent question remains unanswered… Why hasn’t anything changed? CHOCOLATE’S HEART OF DARKNESS exposes serious consequences that consumers rarely consider as they satisfy their indulgent palates by purchasing over seven million tons of chocolate in any given year.

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