The Weber State University Amnesty International club held a film screening and short lecture on Thursday called the “Dark Side of Chocolate,” which discusses labor exploitation in cocoa plantations throughout Africa.

While snacking on free-trade chocolate bars, students learned that child labor in the cocoa industry is rife, but many are unaware of the situation.

Brahima Male, 14, works on a cocoa plantation in the  Ivory Coast, June 9, 2001. Nearly half of the world's cocoa beans come from Ivory Coast.  Many boys like Brahima were tricked or purchased for slavery. (Source: Evelyn Hockstein/ McClatchy Tribune Information Services)
Brahima Male, 14, works on a cocoa plantation in the Ivory Coast. Many boys like Brahima were tricked or purchased for slavery. (Source: Evelyn Hockstein/ McClatchy Tribune Information Services)

Julie Ikeda, the president of Amnesty International at WSU, said the film was a good way to bring light to the unethical side of something so familiar.

“We thought this would be a good way to open some eyes and get some people involved,” Ikeda said of the event. “Everyone loves chocolate, but often times, people aren’t aware of the types of human rights abuses and crimes that are going on around them.”

Around three million tons of chocolate are consumed each year and the Ivory Coast is the world’s largest cocoa producer. To sustain this, 10,000 slave laborers are trafficked into West Africa annually.

According to the film, a child laborer can be purchased for 230 Euros without haggling and with indefinite use.

“I think that these corporations and governments are getting away with these human rights abuses because people aren’t aware and people aren’t willing to speak out,” Ikeda said. “You want to be aware of everything that you as an individual are doing and there’s ways that you can contribute to these global issues.”

The Amnesty International club works to promote and improve human rights throughout the world.

“There are so many students that can make a difference,” said Taylor Greenwell, the events coordinator for Amnesty International at WSU. “That’s kind of part of college, to get involved, and we provide the opportunity to do that.”

Greenwell said he wants students to know that social injustices are occurring everywhere, not just in far countries like Africa or the Middle East.

“Our hardest goal is to help improve social justice throughout the entire world,” Greenwell said. “It’s here in America too, and there’s so many things that can be improved right here.”

General meetings are held every other Thursday at 1:30 p.m. in the Social and Behavioral Science building in room 237. All students are invited to attend the meetings.

Anne Olsen, the public relations coordinator for Amnesty International at WSU, encourages students to participate in the club’s meetings and activities.

“We’re just trying to get people as involved as possible,” Olsen said. “There are a lot of things that you might now know about that can really impact the world around you. What’s so cool about Weber’s Amnesty International organization is that we can help raise awareness as well as provide an outlet for you to do things about those kinds of things. We do provide letter campaigns, we sign petitions, we go to rallies.”

The need to improve human rights is constant, and the Amnesty International club is a way to promote improvement.

“There’s a darker side to everything,” Ikeda said. “I think it’s up to our generation specifically to take the lead in saying something and getting politically involved, and I think that Amnesty International is right at the heart of that.”

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