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Prof. Michel Shaul Report On Prostitution and Slavery in Ivory Coast

There is a surprising association between chocolate and child labor in the Cote d'Ivoire. Young boys whose ages range from 12 to 16 have been sold into slave labor and are forced to work in cocoa farms in order to harvest the beans, from which chocolate is made, under inhumane conditions and extreme abuse. This West African country is the leading exporter of cocoa beans to the world market. Cocoa farms in the Cote d'Ivoire are violating children's human rights in two ways: they are involved in trafficking the children and are also the site of forced labor. There are about 600,000 cocoa farms in Cote d'Ivoire (Child Labor Coalition). Estimates of the number of children forced to work as slaves on these farms are as high as 15,000. Although some children come from Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Togo, most of the trafficked children come from Mali. More than 5.000 children work in the cocoa plantations in Ivory Coast without being victims of slavery, according to the results of an investigation of the International office of Work (the ILO) made public in Abidjan. Hubert Oulaye, Minister of the Ivory Coast for the Public office and Employment affirmed that an investigation carried resulted in 1.500 producers divided in 250 villages and localities and 39 sub-prefectures in the cocoa production zones. The Ivory Coast was regarded these last years in West Africa as one of the most important destinations of the traffic of children, employees in particular like cheap labour in the cocoa plantations, of which it is the first world producer. But according to this study undertaken by the ILO and the International institute for tropical agriculture (IITA), the near total of the owners, who cultivate on average 3 to 5 hectares of cocoa, depending largely on a family labour in understanding of the children. Officially, one counts 600.000 cocoa growers in Ivory Coast who make live directly or indirectly some 6 million people. According to the investigation, among these owners only a minority just about 7.4% of them engage in the recruitment of the paid adults and only 0.94% children are paid. The study estimates approximately 5,100 number of paid children engaged in the countryside cocoa-plantation against 61,600 adults. About 59% of these children come from Burkina Faso, against 41% of north and of the center of the Ivory Coast, the investigation underlines. These paid children are recruited by the intermediaries and envoys in the plantations where they work and do not have any bond with the land owners. There is also the fact that these children are not entitled to education and can open out like the other children who are not paid at all.
There is a cultural variable associated with the situation as well. The children of Ivorian farmers also help cultivate cocoa beans, so some farmers do not see why it is wrong to use the labor of other children . Schooling is so expensive for many of them, that the only alternative left is to work. Even in instances where forced labor is not involved, children in Africa help in the work of their parents, who are contracted laborers. With the high levels of poverty, families need the contribution of their children's earnings to survive. In Ivory Coast, prostitution itself (exchanging sex for money) is legal, but associated activities such as soliciting, pandering or running brothels are illegal. The level of prostitution had dropped over the past years has increased significantly recently after the civil war. The civil war has left many women in need for wages, so some have resorted to prostitution, as there is high unemployment. Due to the civil war, many people lost their jobs and because of the frustration, women turn towards prostitution in order to survive. Ivory Coast is known for high levels of prostitution in highschools and universities where girls prostitute with professors in order to have high scores in their courses. The regular trafficking of children into the country from neighboring countries to work in the informal sector in exchange for finder's fees is generally accepted. Children are trafficked into the country from Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Mauritania for indentured or domestic servitude, farm labor, and sexual exploitation. It is suspected that there is a high number of prostituted children in Côte d’Ivoire, including young Nigerian trafficking victims. According to UNICEF, CSEC is an increasing problem in Ivory Coast. Victims are aged from 10 to 21 and it is children from disadvantaged backgrounds that are most vulnerable. Children from Ghana, Mali, Liberia and Nigeria living in the country are also victims. Students, especially from Dabou, are reported to be heavily engaged in prostitution to augment their family income, whereas in Daloa and San Pedro, child prostitution is an organized affair. Here, children are managed by pimps and made to provide sexual services to clients. Prostitution of boys is also on the rise in the country. Sex tourism is reported to be widespread in places like Abidjan, San Pedro, Bassam, Bouaké, Man and Daloa. There is very little awareness on the issue, not only on the part of the general population, but also on the part of politicians and policy makers Citations

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