Had chocolate lovers known the bitter truth behind the production of this most tasty snack by one and all across the globe, probably most would have kept away from it. The 46-minute documentary, The Dark Side of Chocolate, brings out the crude truth that exists behind the production of this chocolate. The ordeal dates back to several years back in Ivory Coast, where nearly half the world’s cocoa is produced. However the globally in 2010 the film released raked in outrageous downpour from across the globe protesting against the child labor, trafficking and other abuses, that were true stories depicted in the film, made by Miki Mistrati.
"The idea for the film came about from a visit to my local supermarket where I'd gone to buy some chocolate," Mistrati said. "I saw a variety of chocolate bars and one of them had the Fair Trade mark on it, so I began to wonder, if one was Fair Trade what about the other six chocolate bars?"
Mistrati stumbled upon facts:
The Film maker was speaking at the recent Bold Talks in Dubai, an annual event that hosts a selection of acclaimed international speakers on a diverse range of topics to create community awareness. He said, "When I got home from the supermarket I Googled the issue; because I was genuinely curious as a consumer, how chocolate was made, after seeing only one bar with the Fair Trade logo on it," he said. "What I found were lots of NGO reports about child labour and the trafficking of children, but no journalism on this subject.”
How Child Labor is predominant:
Reports reveal that Ivory Coast and Ghana are the two largest cocoa-producing countries on the African continent. Nearly 1,10,000 children are working to fulfill the world’s requirement of Coca in miserable conditions. And of the total nearly one out of ten are victims of human trafficking.
Earlier two members of US Congress, Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa and Representative Eliot Engel of New York, tackled the issue by adding a rider to an agricultural bill proposing a federal system to certify and label chocolate products as slave free. Actually as per a mutual consent between the Chocolate companies and the government huge amounts was spent to eradicate child labor. As the issue looks settled the film by Miki Mistrati and U Roberto Romano begins. The film launched behind-the-scenes investigation on these allegations of child labor in the chocolate industry, if they are present today.
It was through the secret filming in Mistrati's documentary that the world saw the horrific reality lived by some West African children. The Dark Side of Chocolate exposed how children as young as 8 were being bought and sold for the measly price of €230 (Dh1, 104) - facts which were officially denied by cocoa producers and plantation owners.
In his words:
"People said part of African culture is that kids help their parents on plantations, but this was not kids with their parents," he said. "There were children as young as 8 being taken from Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, and Benin, who were then transported to Ivory Coast." The cost of €230 for a child from Burkina Faso, for example, included transportation and indefinite use of the child by the plantation owners, he said.
"Most of the young girls who are victims of trafficking go into the plantations to work as maids for the plantation owners," he said. "During an interview, the director of the International Labour Organisation told me that what I did in 40 minutes was more powerful than what the United Nations had done in 40 years," Mistrati said.
Should we now eat Chocolates?
Well I suppose now chocolates are really worth gorging on as adequate measures are taken to free the trade from child abuse and human trafficking. There are innumerous NGOs working in these areas and the companies themselves have come with firm initiatives to curb this mammoth menace. It is true a hundred words do less than a small photograph. Visual makes the difference. (With Inputs from Internet-AarKay)