Ethical Issues in the Rana Plaza Factory

About seventy percent of the world’s cocoa comes from western African countries such as Ghana and Ivory Coast. The cacao bean mostly referred to as cocoa is the raw material used to manufacture some of the most popular products such as chocolate and many other products. Once the cacao bean is harvested in Western Africa, it is being sold to some of the biggest companies in the world. According to research carried out by journalists, there is evidence of child labor and slavery in the production of the cacao bean. Reporters prying into the management of cocoa farms in western Africa have faced problems trying to research the child labor and slavery issue in the West African regions for example in 2004 a journalist was allegedly killed by trying to make a report on corruption in the government about its profitable cocoa company. Similarly, a total of three journalists were locked up because of publishing an article that exposed Governments corruption and mismanagement in the cocoa industry.

In West Africa, a large portion of some country’s revenue comes from the export of cocoa products. There is a high demand for cheaper cocoa because of the high growth of the chocolate industry. Most cocoa workers earn an amount less than two dollars which is far much below the poverty line. Because of this, most of the farm owners opt for child labor which is relatively cheaper in an attempt to increase their profit margins. About ninety-five percent of the children in West Africa live below the poverty line and this makes them start doing heavy jobs to help in supporting their families. Some of the children end up finding themselves in cocoa farms in an attempt to fight for survival at a younger age. The children are often sold to farm traffickers by their close relations who do not know what they will go through on the farms. Additionally, some children are abducted by traffickers in small interior villages in countries such as Burkina Faso and Mali and once they are on the farm they may end up not seeing their family members for so many years.

On the farms, there are children as young as five years of age but most of them range from twelve to sixteen years of age. Most of the children are boys with girls taking a smaller percentage of the children on the farm. The children work for about six months while some end up working on the farms for their entire life. Workdays for the children start at about six and end at around five in the evening. The children perform different tasks on the farm such as clearing the forest using big chainsaws, climbing the cacao trees to cut the pods using heavy machetes after which the pods are packed in sacks to be carried by the children around the forest to the desired destination. All these practices violate United Nations labor laws which deal with the worst forms of child labor elimination.

The chocolate industry has not taken any visible measures to curtail the high uprising of child labor, human trafficking, and slavery despite being the main reason behind all these. The industries can help in reducing the child labor issues by paying the cocoa farmers a reasonable amount of money for their product and this can help them in paying the workers well without opting for cheaper prices from children labor. The chocolate industries are urged to come up with a program to help in saving children from the harsh unfavorable conditions and rehabilitate those who are already affected. At some point, consumers have a crucial role to play in reducing the food industry’s judicature.

Utilitarianism is one of the most commonly used ethical principles that assume that an action is morally upright when the result is of great importance and good for a greater number of people in society. It also holds that an approach is ethical only when its benefits are far more than the cost of the whole process. The limitation of this principle is that it does not cater to individual preferences as well the term good for all is not quite explained and not clear. Additionally, it’s also almost impossible to measure costs and benefits. The principle is best applicable when resources are scarce or the available options do not satisfy each and everyone’s desire (Brown et al., 2021). Using this principle’s knowledge, child labor and human trafficking in cocoa farms are considered unethical because many children are exposed to brutality and hardships at a very tender age and only a few children get to enjoy the privilege of living above the poverty line.

Every individual is a child or adult has rights such as the right to life and the right to access basic needs such as food shelter and clothes. The principle of rights can be divided into two is the legal and non-legal rights or commonly known as moral rights. Legal rights in the United States for example may be summed up in the constitution and independence declaration. Some of the rights as per the constitution of the United States include the right to the pursuit of happiness, the right to life, and the right to liberty. However, moral rights apply in the whole world and are not dictated by a country’s constitution. They vary from one society to another; some of the rights include the right to work and the right to not be enslaved. The principle is highly recommended in a case where states or countries may engage in activities that may violate the rights of the individuals involved (“13 European Committee of Social Rights: Bedriftsforbundet v Norway, Complaint No. 103/2013, 17 May 2016”, 2017). According to this principle, child labor and trafficking is unethical because the moral rights of the children not to be enslaved have been violated.

The term justice refers to being treated equally in society and the existence of penalties for those who do not behave in a manner that inflicts harm to society or individuals. The core parts of this principle are that every individual in society is equal. Fairness between parties and individuals especially when making the decision and as well the existence of penalties to those who have violated the law in one way or another or generally have inflicted harm to another party. Every person has to take responsibility for the things they do in their everyday life. A close study of the ethical issue in west Africa is realized that the people involved in the acts of child labor and trafficking often go unpunished (Letsie et al., 2021). This is unethical according to the pillars of the justice ethical principle.


13 European Committee of Social Rights: Bedriftsforbundet v Norway, Complaint No. 103/2013, 2016. (2017), 3(2), 163-165. Web.

Brown, A., Pouw, W., Brentari, D., & Goldin-Meadow, S. (2021). People Are Less Susceptible to Illusion When They Use Their Hands to Communicate Rather Than Estimate. Psychological Science, 32(8), 1227-1237. Web.

Letsie, N., Lul, B., & Roe-Sepowitz, D. (2021). An eight-year analysis of child labor trafficking cases in the United States: Exploring characteristics, and patterns of child labor trafficking. Child Abuse & Neglect, 121, 105265. Web.

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