The Dark Side of Chocolate is a 2010 documentary film about the exploitation and slave trading of African children to harvest chocolate still occuring nearly ten years after the cocoa industry pledged to end it.
In 2001, the Chocolate Manufacturers Association formed an action plan entitled the Harkin-Engel Protocol that would aim to end the worse forms of child trafficking and slave labor. However, child trafficking still continued in countries like West Africa. Authorities and companies denied it happened. Due to this conflicting outlook, the filmmakers went undercover to discover the truth. The film starts with its two filmmakers investigating independently by journeying to the western coast of Africa to the country of Mali, the country where children were rumored to be smuggled from and then transported to the Ivory CoastThe team of journalists aimed to investigate human trafficking and child labor in the Ivory Coast and its effects on the worldwide chocolate industry.
The documentary starts in Cologne, where Mistrati asks each vendor at a gathering of chocolate makers where their chocolate is imported from. Their responses lead to the conclusion that almost all chocolate is imported from somewhere in Africa. Their detective work lead them to find that Mali was trafficking children at bus stations by bribing them with work and money, or by kidnapping them from villages. Afterward, they are taken to towns near the border such as Zegoua, where another trafficker transports the children over the border on a dirt-bike. Then they are left with a third trafficker who sells the children to plantations.
The children, ranging in age from 10 to 15, are forced to do hard labor, physically abused, and paid poor wages, or none at all. Most of them stay with the plantation until they die, never seeing their families again. Child labor and trafficking is illegal according to the Harkin-Engel Protocol, an agreement that was signed by all major chocolate companies promising not to harvest their cocoa beans through means of child workers.
When confronted with this issue, the corporate representatives of some of these companies denied all rumors of child labor and trafficking, but the investigations of the filmmakers proved brought to light the continued abuse of children on cocoa plantations.
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