Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Reverse Trick or Treat

I have to confess that I'm handing out ordinary commercial big business chocolate tonight. But not next year. I've taken this article to heart. It's called "Thousands of Kids Will Give Chocolates Back Tonight, With a Message" and here's how it gets started:

NEW YORK - Traditionally, it’s the kids who receive sweets from the elders on Halloween, but that years-old ritual is getting a makeover this year in hundreds of communities across North America.

Anti-poverty activists say thousands of children will go door-to-door tonight handing out chocolates to adults in some 300 cities across the United States and Canada.

Their decision to turn the ritual on its head is part of an international campaign to highlight the plight of tens of thousands of children who are forced to work on cocoa plantations instead of going to school in developing countries.

Campaigners said on Halloween costumed children would fill streets to hand out samples of “Fair Trade Certified” chocolates as a reminder to local communities that there exists an alternative to traditional chocolates, which usually rely on child labor or other abusive processes abroad to grow and harvest the cocoa for their candies.

Calling their campaign “Reverse Trick-or-Treating,” activists said it would address the persistent problems of chronic poverty in cocoa-growing communities, abysmal working conditions, and the massive abuse of child labor in the West African nation of Cote d’Ivoire in particular, where 40 percent of the world’s cocoa is produced.

The campaign is sponsored by human rights advocacy groups including Global Exchange, the International Labor Rights Fund, Co-op America, and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, along with Fair Trade chocolate companies Equal Exchange, Sweet Earth, and Theo Chocolate to raise awareness among children and grown-ups about Fair Trade Certified chocolate as a solution to labor abuses in the cocoa industry.

Fair Trade Certified farmers are required to abide by international labor laws that prohibit illegal child labor. In addition, the Fair Trade system ensures that farmers receive a fair, stable price for their cocoa and that environmentally sustainable farming practices are applied.

Sounds like the right thing to do to me. Someone needs to speak up for the children of the world. And if the parents got a fair wage for their labor, the children wouldn't have to work.


  1. I also read about the Fair-Trade boycott of "regular" chocolate too late. I gave Hershey and Nestle chocolates out tonight until it all ran out. No one even thought of boycotting in deep south Texas.

  2. Anonymous11:13 AM

    Thanks for letting me know of this.
    Everyone was gone last night, but that will not be the case next year. Marilyn

  3. I've read a little bit about fair trade chocolate and the child labor issue. It's complex, and I'm not sure what the right thing is to do.

    From what I've read, simply ending the child labor won't really help the children. Their families need the income (paltry though it is) that the children bring in from their work. If the child labor is simply taken away, it doesn't necessarily mean the child will instead be going to school. It means the family will be deprived of some income and the child will still not have schooling.

    I wish I knew more about the programs to end this child labor practice, because it absolutely must be multi-faceted. The families must not be thrown into further poverty (these families are not always the "farmers" getting a fair price, they are laborers and the "trickle down" theory may or may not apply), and the children must be provided school uniforms and an opportunity for education, which is far from universal in West Africa. I hesitate to buy what is labeled as "fair trade" because I truly don't know if the changes that are being made are having a positive or negative effect. :(


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