Posted by: reisendame | February 12, 2007

Can eating chocolate be more than a diet faux pas? One journalist asks it to be against the law.

chocolatebox_outline1.gifA Dutch journalist pleaded an Amsterdam court to jail him for being a chocolate eater last Friday. This strange case of self-sacrifice was Teun van de Keuken’s attempt to get the world’s attention on the fact that the chocolate market exists largely in part from what he calls “child slavery” in Ivory Coast, the number one chocolate manufacturer in the world. Van de Keuken has spoken to many former child laborers, some of whom were sold by impoverished families. The European Cocoa Association recognizes a problem with child labor, but refuses to admit that it is slavery. If this journalist has the resolve to face jailtime for his cause, the conditions these children endure must be at least slightly inhumane. Though much of the Western world finds no cause for concern in modern human rights cases, there are still places on earth where human rights are a major issue. I find it especially tragic in the situation of child laborers who really have no choice in how their lives are run. It’s appalling that the European Cocoa Association brushes this issue aside. If a child is literally sold to a company by his or her parents, how is this not slavery? In America, the legal working age is 16 years old and that requires a pay of minimum wage. There is no such thing as minimum wage for these children, and the paltry sum of money they do make is certainly no match for the back-breaking labor they do day in and day out. Granted, there have been advances in civil rights movements all over the world, especially in the last century, but this is a major problem that some people don’t seem to want resolved. Without children to maniuplate and take advantage of, the chocolate industry would be forced to pay actual laborers for their time. I think it is incredibly admirable that this journalist is literally surrendering himself to the law in order to benefit thousands of children who would otherwise have no voice. Although his method is non-Orthodox, it seems as though extreme measures must be taken in order to overcome this “hush-hush” archaic practice. Van Keuken, along with other chocolate-lovers, may never be incriminated officially by the courts, but hopefully his plea will grasp the much-needed attention of the world’s eye on a digusting and selfish money-making method. This story is especially interesting now, since Valentine’s day is just around the corner and the chocolate industry is certainly booming now. Jail me, urges chocolate-eating Dutchman When it comes to chocolate, give in to the dark

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