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The Dark Side of Chocolate: Child Trafficking and Illegal Child Labor in the Cocoa Industry cover image

The Dark Side of Chocolate: Child Trafficking and Illegal Child Labor in the Cocoa Industry 2010

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Films Media Group, 132 West 31st St., 17th Floor, New York, NY 10001; 800-257-5126
Produced by Bastard Film
Directed by U. Roberto Romano, Miki Mistrati
DVD, color, 47 min.

Sr. High - General Adult
African Studies, Child Abuse, Child Labor, Child Trafficking, Human Rights

Date Entered: 08/26/2011

Reviewed by Gloria Maxwell, Reference Librarian, Penn Valley Community College, Kansas City, MO

A protocol was signed in 2001 that after 2008 child trafficking would be prohibited in the chocolate industry. Suspecting that much of the cocoa imported from Africa to make chocolate for the rest of the world is still harvested by illegal child labor, award winning Danish journalist Miki Mistrati traveled to Africa to try and determine whether the rumors about child trafficking in the cocoa industry were true or not.

The Ivory Coast is the largest producer of cocoa. To the north of that country is Mali, a poor country with little or no exports. Following a trail that starts in southern Mali, Mistrati and a team of journalists went into Mali with hidden cameras and then crossed the border into the Ivory Coast, filming children being enticed and transported from their villages to cocoa plantations where they are exploited so that the chocolate industry can get its cocoa. Traffickers lure children ages 8 to 15 away from their village homes and get them on a bus that then transports them to plantations where their labor will be exploited. None of these children go to school or can speak the local dialect; they never get paid. Local militias cooperate with the traffickers. It is dangerous for anyone to investigate the chocolate business. All of the chocolate companies declined interviews for this documentary. The majority of cocoa companies do not own the companies that make chocolate or supply the cocoa, and they don’t have direct contact with cocoa farming and labor practices. Mistrati’s mission is to show his film to the CEOs of the large chocolate companies and try to enlist their help in bringing an end to this abominable practice. Short of that, he is trying to show his film at chocolate conventions and engage the public’s support in putting pressure on the chocolate companies to do the right thing.

This is a heartbreaking film to watch, but one that should be seen by all chocolate lovers.

Technical and audio aspects are not uniform, due to the sections where hidden cameras were used, but this is to be expected in that instance.

This documentary would be suitable for college and general adult collections; if used in a senior high school setting there should be some discussion to accompany viewing the film.

Highly recommended.